JTHS Council of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS - Jupiter, Tequesta, Hope Sound

     

                

Only in Miami: Commercial Realtor Brian Sharpe’s Cuban Story

by | May 23, 2018



By Chris Umpierre

MIAMI Staff

 

Brian Sharpe hears the same lighthearted refrain at Hialeah city meetings.

“!Aquí viene el americano!”

Sharpe is American born, but he also has a deep Cuban history some Hialeah residents might not know. It’s a unique Miami Cuban story that can only happen in a city as diverse and welcoming as ours.

Sharpe’s American-born grandfather lived in Cuba for 15 years before communist dictator Fidel Castro stole their families’ successful department store business and all American companies.  The family escaped to Miami, where Sharpe’s grandfather started an appliance distribution company and later a commercial real estate business.

Brian Sharpe — the third generation in his family to ply his trade in commercial real estate — understands the significance of his career arc. He is continuing the family legacy in a city with the highest percentage of Cuban-Americans in the United States. Sharpe learned many life lessons from his late grandfather — who was so fond of Cuba he named his first Miami shopping center after the Caribbean island — and his father, who grew up in Cuba and speaks fluent Spanish.

“My father always taught us that the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education,” said Sharpe, who is a Syracuse University graduate and the 2018 MIAMI Association of REALTORS® Commercial President. “In Cuba, my grandfather and father lost everything they worked for. But they told me: ‘As long as you have an opportunity to rebuild, you can do it.’”

 

Los Precios Fijos

The Sharpe story begins in the 1940s when Brian Sharpe’s grandfather, Joe, relocated his young family to Havana, Cuba from Brooklyn, New York. Brian Sharpe’s father Barry was 1 year old at the time.  Joe Sharpe decided to move to Cuba to work in the families’ business, running a department store.

Joe Sharpe worked at the store — “Los Precios Fijos,” or The Fixed Prices — for 15 years. “Los Precios Fijos” was the third-largest department store on the Caribbean island by the time Castro came to power and nationalized all American businesses in 1960.

Joe Sharpe moved quickly to get his family out of Cuba, leaving with little of the money he had worked so hard for.

Eventually, the entrepreneurial Joe Sharpe opened an appliance distribution company. Joe Sharpe’s company transitioned into commercial real estate. 

Joe Sharpe purchased a Miami shopping center and called it the Cuban Shopping Center in remembrance of his time on the Caribbean island.  The family business still owns the shopping center at 2301 NW 7th Street, only eight blocks from Marlins Park.

Barry Sharpe, Brian’s father, joined the family business after deciding not to pursue law.  He started out purchasing property tax deeds at the courthouse steps before transitioning into buying and maintaining commercial properties.


Joining the Family Business

Brian Sharpe originally wanted to become a legislator, not a commercial Realtor. He worked on campaigns out of college before deciding politics wasn’t for him.

Brian Sharpe had an eventful first day at Sharpe Properties.  His father gave him a flame thrower and put him on the roof of one of the company’s buildings.  His job: use the flame thrower to apply new roofing materials. He was told that instead of working his way up in real estate, you start at the top and when you reach the ground floor that is when you fully know the building.

Brian Sharpe, who is also a licensed General Contractor, loves working with his hands, didn’t mind.

Today, he with his father manage the company’s separate property tax appeals company "REtag" reducing property taxes for their clients and Brian’s brother, Mason, is Sharpe Properties’ in-house lawyer.

 

Becoming a MIAMI Leader

Originally, Brian Sharpe became a volunteer member of MIAMI’s leadership boards to help the family business. He’d thought he’d gain more resources from meeting new people on the boards. Along the way, he realized so many other reasons on becoming a MIAMI leader.

He was on the forefront of the industry, learning from peers and developing his leadership skills.

Now in his seventh year as a MIAMI Leader, Sharpe is the MIAMI Commercial President.  He’s leading a new branding for the commercial board and he has other top goals.

“I want to expand the commercial reach of the Realtor in South Florida,” Sharpe said. “I want Realtors to be the central hub where all connections meet. Our Realtor association has so many resources we want to share with everybody.”

The MIAMI commercial board rebranded from RCA MIAMI to Miami Commercial.

“Miami Commercial stands for what we are,” Sharpe said.

 

Visiting Cuba

Brian Sharpe said his late grandfather would be so proud he’s continuing the family business.

“He’d be blown away,” Brian Sharpe said. “He always wanted me to be a rabbi but it didn’t work out. His grandfather was a famous rabbi, but he would be very happy my brother and I are working for the company. My grandfather was a hard worker. After a long day at work, I’d remember he’d come into the office and fall asleep in his chair.”


Nine years ago, Brian and Mason Sharpe traveled to Cuba on religious visas to see where their father and grandfather grew up. Barry Sharpe got emotional when he saw the sad state of the island and his old family home.

“My first impression of Cuba is the beauty that lies beneath,” Brian Sharpe said. “You feel for the people of Cuba. You want them to have better lives. They live well but there is so much more opportunity that they could benefit them. It’s sad.”

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SHARPE BIO

Name: Brian Sharpe

Board position: 2018 MIAMI Commercial President

Employment: Vice president of leasing & construction, Sharpe Properties Group. Vice President of Real Estate Tax Appeal Group: RE-TAG (formerly PTAG)

Licenses: Real Estate Broker, General Contractor, Home Inspector, Appraiser Trainee

Achievement: 2017 Commercial REALTOR® Give Back Community Award winner

Did you know? Prior to joining Sharpe Properties, he worked as the campaign coordinator for Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin.

 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Getting to Know Our MIAMI Leaders is a project by Chris Umpierre highlighting the 2018 presidents and chairmen of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI). The leaders are: Chairman of the Board George C. Jalil, Residential President Jorge L. Guerra Jr., Commercial President Brian Sharpe, Broward President Patricia C. Anglero, Young Professionals Network Chairman Jorge H. Fernandez and JTHS-MIAMI President Barb Fox.

Read all the profiles at www.MiamiRealtors.com/Leaders

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