Developer Evangeline Gouletas Makes Her Mark On Miami

BY INA PAIVA CORDLE
icordle@MiamiHerald.com

She dances the tango, rides horseback, collects fine china, once worked on the Minuteman Missile program and was previously the first lady of New York state.

Evangeline Gouletas, who founded a real estate company in Chicago with her two brothers, and moved to Miami in 2000 to head her own business, is the developer behind Miami’s SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village.

“I knew I wanted to make a difference in the skyline: It wouldn’t be Chicago without its skyline. It wouldn’t be Miami without its skyline,” Evangeline said. “I was looking ahead to influence the skyline in all these majors cities.”

Evangeline is the chairman and CEO of both Skyline Equities Realty, a development company, and Skyline Realty International, a residential brokerage firm. Both companies are headquartered on Miami’s Brickell Avenue, and also have offices in Chicago.

“She has had the track record of being very successful, not only as a developer, but also has been very active in the Developers & Builders Alliance [trade group],” said real estate analyst Michael Y. Cannon, executive director of Integra Realty Resources-Miami. Among the alliance’s other leaders have been Donald Trump and Related Group’s Jorge Perez, Cannon said. ”Her reputation is that she is savvy and she is a hands-on person,” Cannon said.

Born in Athens, Greece, Evangeline says she brings a European sense of style and architecture to her buildings, translating design ideas from her travels. In all, her companies have developed 120 projects in more than 40 markets in the United States.

She also owns retail space and Cite Fine Dining, a restaurant on the 70th floor of Lake Point Tower, a well-known building in Chicago on the prestigious Lake Shore Drive.

“I love beauty, no matter what I have in my hands, I beautify it,” she said. “I may have a grapefruit for breakfast, but the table looks like I am going to have a feast.”

Active in sports, Evangeline has skied all over Europe and the United States, and has competed in dressage horse riding. She has a dancing coach come to her home three times a week to do ballroom dancing, and says she excels at tango. She also attends the symphony and the opera, designs some of her own clothes, enjoys cooking and collects Lalique crystal and fine china.

Before entering real estate, Evangeline taught math in Chicago and was a mathematical analyst on the Minuteman Missile program in Anaheim, Calif. She holds a master’s degree in education and did post-graduate work in math and engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

But real estate was always a passion.

“During all this time I was assisting my dad making his real estate decisions — he was in real estate in Chicago, purchasing buildings and developing them,” she said. “I became very enamored with assisting him and making the buildings more beautiful, raising the quality of life for people.”

Throughout the years, she has also been involved in various philanthropic causes, including Unicef.

“I spent 12 years in New York, it was very exciting. It gave me the opportunity to lead a lot of charitable organizations and be an influence in coordinating them and raising a lot of money, doing whatever I could to promote the cultural arts and the educational field,” Evangeline said. “I worked harder than I have ever worked, and it gave me a great sense of accomplishment.”

She also hobnobbed with the likes of David Rockefeller, whose home she visited, as well as Donald Trump and his former wife Ivana, and has sailed on Malcolm Forbes’ yacht. ”It was a wonderful exposure,” she said.

Still, she said her transition to Florida was natural. While living in Chicago and New York, Evangeline said she had always maintained a second and third home in South Florida, first in Fort Lauderdale, and then in Aventura, as well as a home in Duck Key.

“It was time for me to spread my wings, and for my brother Nick to run his own company, and for me to run my own. I wanted to go to Florida, and the corporate direction was to stay in Chicago,” she said. “I wanted to be the CEO and lead a company, and I felt that I was more than ready to do that and to move to the place of my dreams.”

She chose Miami.

“Of all the major cities, I thought: `Where do I want to spend the rest of my life, and do business?’ ” Evangeline said, adding that she doesn’t ever plan to retire. “For business opportunities and lifestyle, my choice was Miami.”

Between her former and current companies, she has been involved in the development of such projects in Florida as the Executive House in Miami Beach; the Yacht Club of Aventura; Galt Towers and Royal Ambassador, on Galt Ocean Mile in Fort Lauderdale; Village Lake, a project of 346 homes in St. Petersburg; Skyline on Brickell; and now SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village.

SkyPalace, which had expected to begin construction this summer, is now finalizing legal terms to borrow more than $100 million within the next few weeks, and contruction will start before the end of the year, said Stylianos Vayanos, Skyline Equities Realty’s vice president of public relations and international marketing.

Among Evangeline’s strengths are her determination and her marketing abilities, said Brian Tague, a partner at Tew Cardenas who has worked with Evangeline, representing SkyPalace.

It would be a mistake to underestimate Evangeline, because a lot of people say this is a difficult time to do a project,” Tague said. “But her determination and her creativity are going to make this work one way or the other.”

For the future, Evangeline plans even more projects for the Brickell area — the same neighborhood in which she lives.

“I love the energy here, the cosmopolitan feeling of what is happening in Miami, and especially this section of Miami, the Brickell area,” she said. “I feel very strongly that it is one of the best areas of the world. It has vibrancy. It has everything you want for a great lifestyle.”

Her logo, which depicts a building reaching toward the sky, describes best her business philosophy: “I’m looking ahead for my generation and the generation to come,” she said. “I’m a visionary.”