Marketing assets

Can Metaverse sell an office building? The Miami firm thinks so

Matt Zanardo, Vice Chairman of Inhouse Commercial at Metaverse Group, and Phillip Levine, Former Mayor of Miami Beach (LinkedIn, Wikipedia, iStock)

Tasked with enticing a major tech company to buy an aging office building, a Miami-based brokerage firm includes a unique sweetener: a digital twin of the property.

Inhouse Commercial said this week that it has partnered with Metaverse Group to develop a virtual version of the two buildings at 930 and 960 Alton Road in Miami Beach, with the aim of selling them as a package. The asking price is $25 million.

If Inhouse’s plan succeeds, it would be the first combined commercial-metaverse deal, according to the company.

The two-story office building, majority owned by former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine, had been on the market for nearly a year before Inhouse chose months ago to pursue the new strategy.

The listing had attracted several potential buyers, but the company believed it could secure a higher price and attract a big tech buyer with a plan focused on the virtual world and cryptocurrency.

“Companies and brands in our industry were entering the metaverse, and we saw that there would likely be a need to connect to the real world,” said Jared Robins, Founder of Inhouse.

Around the same time, Inhouse partnered with FTX, the Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange, to facilitate a cryptocurrency sale – a move Robins says generated “much more interest” from technology companies.

“Miami has truly become a tech hub and the crypto capital of the United States,” he said. “We saw an opportunity to market this asset to this group of buyers.”

Sierra Development of Orlando, a luxury home builder, is pursuing a similar strategy on the residential side; he’ll be looking to get eight figures for a Miami mansion and its replica in a popular metaverse called The Sandbox later this year.

While many companies and brands have entered the metaverse in recent months, the viability of the virtual real estate business remains to be tested. For the Alton Road buildings, the buyer is expected to use the digital twin as a virtual meeting place for remote employees – a model that has gained traction among forward-looking companies. New York-based brokerage firm Serhant, for its part, is building an exclusive metaverse called UNIVERSE for its employees and agents.

Metaverse Group, a major owner and developer of virtual real estate, has so far only developed renderings of virtual property. It will take until Inhouse finds a buyer to fully build it and select the metaverse where it will live, according to Matt Zanardo, who leads the consultancy for the company.

For now, the company is looking at building the asset in Decentraland, a popular and easily accessible “public” metaverse where the Metaverse Group is a major landowner, Zanardo said.

A full-scale replica would require around 25-30 packages – each package is 16 square meters – in this virtual world, where the cheapest packages always sell for more than the equivalent of $10,000 in the native cryptocurrency, called MANA. Ultimately, the buyer could buy the land or lease it at a rate of around 2% of its total cost per month.

If the company decides security and privacy are a priority, it can choose to build its own gated “walled garden” — comparable to the virtual worlds some large corporations and universities build for employees and students, Zanardo said.

Levine purchased 930 and 960 Alton Road in 1996 for $1.6 million and has used it over the years for his political campaigns and business ventures. Built in 1948 (930 Alton) and 1975 (960 Alton), it includes approximately 21,000 square feet of retail space, according to marketing materials. The sole tenant, Reebok Crossfit, rents on a monthly basis, Robins said.

The asset is being marketed as a potential 63,000 square foot redevelopment. Miami Beach commissioners approved a new zoning ordinance in July to promote office development on Alton Road.

Metaverse Group is a subsidiary of Tokens.com, a publicly traded company that invests in so-called “Web3” crypto assets and metaverse companies.