Team

Matthew Whitman Lazenby

Matthew Whitman Lazenby

President & Chief Executive Officer

Matthew Whitman is chairman of Whitman Family Development, LLC, and oversees the company’s strategic planning.

In 1974, he joined his father, Stanley Whitman, at Bal Harbour Shops as its leasing agent. In this role, the younger Whitman was quickly tasked with developing the second level for the luxury shopping center. Although the second level had been planned from before Bal Harbour Shops opened in 1965, vertical expansion of a shopping center was still considered innovative in the 1970s, and some brands were reluctant to lease stores on the second level, he recalls.

“The biggest challenge was getting the European brands to commit,” Whitman said. “They didn’t really understand shopping centers—and certainly not multi-level ones.”

Nonetheless, in 1983, a second level was added at Bal Harbour Shops, expanding this premier retail center to 450,000 square feet. But even after doubling the size of the leasable store space with the second level, the family’s commitment to strong merchandising guided its every decision. A host of willing prospects were refused because Whitman did not think they were right for the center.

“Brooks Brothers was our lead tenant on the upper level,” he recalls. “After making a handful of calls, I had 60 percent of the floor leased,” he said. “It took me another 10 years to get the rest.”

Today, Bal Harbour Shops boasts an unparalleled selection of world-renowned designers, and plans are underway for a 250,000-square-foot expansion to accommodate the lengthy waiting list of luxury stores that want to bring their brands to this celebrated shopping center, set amid lush tranquility in a breezy, tree-lined locale in Miami Beach.

Whitman’s signature additions to the ambiance at Bal Harbour Shops include two large fish ponds.

“Our goal is always to make the space as pretty as possible; it really is as simple as that,” he said. “We have a great location, a great history, and we’re making progress with our plans for expansion,” he said. “The future is rosy.”

Whitman holds a Bachelors degree from Florida State University, and he served as a junior ocer in the Navy for three years during the Vietnam era. After completing his military service, Whitman returned to Miami and initially worked as a leasing agent for the Allen Morris Company for three years, before joining his father at Bal Harbour Shops.

Matthew Whitman is an avid athlete and a handball champion. He and his wife, Gigi, are actively involved in charitable organizations, particularly those aliated with Bal Harbour Shops – Project: New Born, as well as The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.