Tibor Hollo

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Tibor Hollo
Born1927 (age 93–94)
NationalityUnited States
OccupationReal estate developer
Known forFounder of Florida East Coast Realty
Spouse(s)Sheila Hollo
ChildrenWayne Hollo
Jerome Hollo
Arlene Hollo Chaplin

Tibor Hollo (born 1927) is an American real estate developer and founder of Florida East Coast Realty.[1][2][3]


Tibor Hollo was born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary but raised in France.[1] In 1941, he and his parents were arrested after the German occupation of France and sent to the Drancy internment camp outside of Paris.[1] The family was then shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp where his mother was separated from him and his father; they never saw her again.[1] He and his father were then forced to march to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria where they remained until their liberation by the U.S. 11th Armored Division on May 5, 1945.[1] Hollo then returned to France and obtained a degree in architecture before immigrating to the United States with $18 to his name.[1] He worked at a curtain factory before landing a job as an estimator for a general contractor.[1] Noticing that most contractors turned down work on the New York waterfront because it was difficult and dirty work, he started his own firm and was able to underbid the few competitors he had.[1] After winning and successfully completing many jobs, his reputation allowed him to win larger projects around the city and then nationally.[1] By 1956, his contracting company was one of the ten largest in the United States.[1]

In 1956, after falling in love with Florida on a business trip, he sold his contracting company and moved to Miami.[1] Recognizing that Miami had limited space as it was defined by the ocean on the east and the Everglades on the west, he believed that the future of the city was in vertical, downtown residential living.[1] He founded Florida East Coast Realty and completed his first major building, 888 Brickell Avenue.[1] In 1968, he bought six blocks of blighted waterfront property next to the Venetian Causeway; wanting to convert it into a mall, he faced opposition from the local government who did not want to close any streets as required to complete the project.[1] In 1973, Maurice Ferre, the newly elected mayor of Miami and the son of a Puerto Rican real estate developer, gave his support to Hollo allowing him to build the Omni International Mall as well as the 810-unit Venetia Tower and marina.[1] Using his political capital with the mayor, he was also able to secure Miami's second ever tax-increment financing zone for the Arts & Entertainment District (then Omni); the zone would use property taxes to improve the streets, utilities, and infrastructure in the neighborhood.[1] The Venetia Tower was not successful due to the collapse of the South American economy in the late 1980s; and in 1988, after having only sold 57 of 810 units, Hollow was forced to cede ownership of the project.[1]

Learning from his experience, he only works on one project at a time and never borrows more than 40% of the project's cost.[1] Hollo went on to build many projects including the U.S. Justice Department Building, the Vizcaya Towers, The Grand Doubletree, the Biscayne Bay Marriott, the Opera Tower, and the Bay Parc Plaza.[1] He is presently working on the 1,049 foot One Bayfront Plaza[4] the 868 foot Panorama Tower,[5][6] and The Towers by Foster + Partners (formerly Villa Magna Condominiums). Hollo has been criticized for building high rises that separated the city from its waterfront and for building "big, bulky, inimical buildings that are foreboding to look at and unpleasant to walk around".[1]


In 2012, he donated $2.5 million to fund the Tibor & Sheila Hollo School of Real Estate at Florida International University’s Downtown Brickell campus.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Hollo has been married to his wife Sheila Hollo since 1967.[2] Hollo speaks French, Hungarian, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian.[2] Two of his sons, Wayne Hollo and Jerome Hollo, both work at Florida East Coast Realty as Executive Vice Presidents; and his grandson, Austin Hollo, as a Vice President.[8] Hollo was diagnosed with basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma on his nose which required over a dozen operation and left his nose disfigured.[9]