In 2008, after the loss of his mother, and with only twelve thousand dollars to his name, Cal Santangelo made the bold choice to make it big in real estate. He moved from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Key Biscayne, Florida, a tropical island off the coast of Miami. Cal now refers to this decision as his “Hail Mary” as it ultimately led to his current position as the managing director of multifamily acquisitions at Arena Capital Holdings. However, moving to Miami was only the first step of an 11-year journey that would lead to him becoming the experienced director of acquisitions that he is today.
Upon his arrival in Florida, Cal’s first order of business was to enroll in graduate school. He had already started his education at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on a scholarship for rowing crew, so he decided to pursue his master’s degree at Florida International University in Miami. Cal far exceeded his initial goal and left FIU’s campus with a total of three master’s degrees. Cal holds a Master of Science degree in international real estate, a Master of Science degree in finance, real estate investments, and securities, and a Master of Business Administration degree. As an alumnus, he continues to support FIU by serving on the board of directors for the university’s Honors College.
It was just before graduating with his second master’s degree from FIU that Cal got his start in the real estate industry. He was hired by CEO, Tom Cabrerizo, as a multifamily acquisitions analyst for CFH Group based in Miami. CFH is a fully integrated real estate development and property management company with multiple locations throughout southern Florida.
His next move was going to work for Marcus & Millichap, the largest national commercial real estate brokerage firm, and one of the top multifamily brokers in the state of Florida. There, he worked as a financial analyst under Evan Kristol and Still Hunter III, who are both known as leaders in the acquisition and disposition of multifamily assets, both statewide and at the national level. Cal continued with Marcus & Millichap for a year before striking out on his own to do independent development and consulting.
Cal’s real estate journey next led him into the realms of entrepreneur, author, and international speaker, Grant Cardone, where he was hired to work with acquisitions for Cardone’s team. In fact, he helped to create Cardone Capital, a multifamily fund that currently boasts $1.3B in real estate holdings. Although his time with the team was rewarding, Cal made the decision to move on and to join Arena Capital.
Located in Coral Gables, Florida, Arena Capital Holdings is a family-owned, third-generation real estate investment company that follows a “back to basics” management and investment philosophy.
Working exclusively in the state of Florida, the team concentrates on acquiring, repositioning, and adding value to large scale multifamily and retail properties for long-term investment. They first target densely developed markets, which exhibit long-term growth characteristics with barriers for new development. Next, they focus their efforts on specific properties that have been either undermanaged and/or undercapitalized because both provide opportunities to enhance tenancy and overall revenue growth.
For example, in August, Arena Capital and Coral Rock Development Group closed on a $12.75M construction loan for developing a 250-unit, mixed-use project with ground floor retail for Pura Vida Hialeah in south Florida. A transformation from the area’s aging retail and residential offerings, the new towers are expected to become the new town epicenter, creating a contemporary and convenient lifestyle for the residents of Hialeah. Cal says that he is excited to see how quickly Arena Capital is expanding and growing its multifamily and retail portfolio. He notes, “Our target is 2,000 multifamily units in the next 12 months.” Considering recent developments, they are likely to reach their goal.
According to Cal, Arena Capital’s deep understanding and knowledge of multifamily investment is one of the greatest benefits of being a member of the team. Founded in 2002, Cal says they have a proven history of combining fresh capital investment with a creative entrepreneurial approach. As the managing director of multifamily acquisitions, Cal brings his own broad understanding of the business and insight into how to advise on a deal, how to identify, and how to add value. This has led to several successful investments including Prospect Towers in Clearwater, Florida; 208 apartments and a 17-story high-rise that the company purchased in January. Cal says that he and his team members are continually seeking these types of investment opportunities within prime Florida locations.
When he is not working with Arena Capital, Cal enjoys spending time with his beautiful and loving wife, cheering on his amazing daughter at volleyball tournaments, and helping others. His first rewarding experience was serving as an ocean rescue lifeguard for 14-years on both the Atlantic City Beach Patrol and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue Division. Cal says that the job taught him a lot of valuable skills and gave him the desire to help others. This was an aspiration which he never outgrew. For instance, he is currently in the process of getting involved with the Make a Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to grant life-changing wishes for children fighting critical illnesses. Cal wants to donate money to the foundation so that he and his team members at Arena Capital Holding can join others in uplifting spirits and inspiring hope.
Cal Santangelo, MBA, MSIRE, MSF
Managing Director-Multifamily Acquisitions
Arena Capital Holdings
2150 Coral Way Suite 4a
Coral Gables, FL 33145
Download the Top 100 People in Real Estate magazine and see Cal's feature on page 6.