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On the newest episode of DASH’s Breaking Ground podcast, we sat down with Harvey Hernandez, the pioneering CEO of Newgard Development Group and founder of the Natiivo brand.

Hernandez’s journey in real estate began over 20 years ago when he arrived in Miami from Venezuela in 1992 at just 19 years old. Since then, he’s built a remarkable track record of success, with Newgard’s portfolio including iconic projects like Brickell House, Gale Residences, and Centro. Today, Hernandez is focused on expanding Natiivo, his boldest venture yet, to markets across Florida and beyond.

Throughout our conversation, a central theme emerged: Hernandez’s uncanny ability to anticipate and shape the future of residential real estate. From his early days of selling refurbished computers to his current role as an industry disruptor, Hernandez has consistently been ahead of the curve, identifying untapped opportunities and creating products that redefine how people live.

His forward-thinking approach offers valuable lessons for anyone seeking to innovate in a real estate market that is always on the move.

Make sure to catch the full episode with Harvey Hernandez below!

In the meantime, here are five key takeaways that showcase his visionary mindset:

1. Identify untapped opportunities by observing human behavior

Hernandez shared how the Natiivo concept was born from observing a mismatch between consumer desires and the available product in the market:

“As is natural, I would come in every single day to my office through the main lobby and I would see everyone with suitcases, not everyone, but a ton of people’s suitcases coming in and out in the mornings and also the afternoon. And I started wondering, what’s going on here?”

By paying attention to how people were actually using residential spaces – in this case, condos being rented out as de facto Airbnbs – Hernandez spotted an opportunity to create a purpose-built product that better serves the needs of both owners and short-term renters. Sometimes the most exciting business ideas are hiding in plain sight.

2. Design products you’d want to use yourself

For Hernandez, the litmus test for any new development is simple: would he be first in line to buy it? As he puts it:

“Would I be a buyer of that product? Would I go and would I write the check on that particular location for that prototype if I was in the market? If the answer is yes, then we proceed.”

This user-first mindset is evident in the thought and care that goes into every aspect of a Natiivo building, from the fully-furnished units to the flexible ownership structure. By prioritizing his own standards as a discerning buyer, Hernandez ensures that Natiivo delivers a best-in-class experience to its residents.

3. Assemble a team that shares your vision

Hernandez likens the development process to conducting a symphony, where every musician plays a critical role:

“We developers are almost like conductors… there is a symphony that we want to execute on and we start putting together basically the best, most appropriate, most available, most talented composers or musicians for that symphony.”

Whether it’s architects, designers, or brokers, Hernandez seeks out collaborators who not only bring deep expertise but also a genuine passion for the project and the market. By surrounding himself with a team that’s fully bought into his vision, Hernandez sets his developments up for success.

4. Look beyond real estate to create holistic living experiences

Hernandez shares his vision for the future of residential development, which goes beyond just building homes to creating vibrant, connected communities:

“So providing one of those necessities [housing] was beautiful. And then I said, well, I need something a little bit more challenging than just buying a building, renovating, and then acting as a landlord. I wonder if I can build something. And that took it to another level.”

At Natiivo, this philosophy translates into a focus on unique amenities, services, and programming designed to enhance residents’ quality of life. From co-working spaces to curated events and beyond, Hernandez is redefining what it means to create a truly holistic living experience. By pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, he’s setting a new standard for the industry.

5. Deliver value that endures in the face of rising costs

As Hernandez notes, soaring construction costs and other headwinds have made the economics of development tougher than ever:

“Unfortunately, the only way that we have to sort of continue providing the services and providing the product that we built is by passing on those costs into our customers. But until when our customers be able to afford that?”

In this challenging environment, delivering lasting value to buyers is paramount. For Natiivo, that means offering a flexible ownership model that empowers residents to monetize their units when they’re not in use. By baking in features that create long-term financial upside, Hernandez believes Natiivo will continue to justify its price point even as costs climb.

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