Matthew Whitman Lazenby works to achieve expansion of family's Bal Harbour Shops, adding perhaps 25 stores
In a way, Matthew Whitman Lazenby is his family's answer to the new world of Miami's upscale shopping scene.
He favors the work of Ayn Rand, the late Russian-American novelist and philosopher. She believed laissez-faire capitalism is the ideal political-economic system where people deal with each other as traders of free exchange to their mutual benefit.
In a sense, he sees those elements play out every day on the job, as operating partner in his family's business — the Bal Harbour Shops, one of Greater Miami's bastions of high-end fashion shopping.
He is at the helm at a challenging and exciting time for the 47-year-old, open-air shopping center, which is working to stay ahead of the competition in the area's evolving and increasingly competitive luxury retail sector. In recent years, several stores at the Shops have defected to newer locales such as the Aventura Mall and midtown-Miami's Design District.
Mr. Whitman Lazenby, whose duties including tenant leases, says other stores have stepped in, but the need to offer designers more space is paramount. With that in mind, the Shops is about to undertake a major expansion, estimated at a cost of about $100 million, and he is helping shape the plan.
In stints working in real estate in New York and Detroit, Mr. Whitman Lazenby got the seasoning he needed to step into a leadership role at the Shops. He completed the process with a master's degree in real estate development, which he is sure to put to use with the expansion — including relocating a nearby church.
At his office in the mall, Mr. Whitman Lazenby spoke with Miami Today reporter Scott Blake about his work to help carry his family's legacy into the future.
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