Ophir Sternberg began his career assembling, acquiring and developing properties in emerging neighborhoods in New York City, which established his reputation for identifying assets with unrealized potential and combining innovative partnerships with efficient financing structures to realize above average returns. Sternberg came to the United States in 1993 after completing three years of military service within an elite combat unit for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
In 2010, Sternberg shifted his principal focus to South Florida. Again, taking the contrarian view, he led Lionheart Capital in the acquisition of several trophy luxury residential development sites at deeply discounted valuations. Dedicated to working with only best-in-class partners, Lionheart Capital has since completed numerous transactions including the development of two Ritz-Carlton projects.
Under Sternberg’s leadership, Lionheart Capital executed numerous, marquee real estate transactions and repositions, including The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach, which resulted in a total sell-out value in excess of $550 million as well as the purchase of the development’s site, the former Miami Heart Institute. Additionally Sternberg led the $120 million sale of The Seagull Hotel, making it the highest grossing hotel sale of 2020 in Miami Beach.
Sternberg and Lionheart Capital are currently in development on a number of other projects, including but are not limited to retail properties in Miami’s fashion and culture epicenter, The Design District. In addition to The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, Lionheart Capital also completed The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Singer Island in Palm Beach building a reputation for developing high-end luxury branded properties.
In 2017, Sternberg founded Out of the Box Ventures, a Lionheart Capital subsidiary, to acquire and reposition distressed retail properties throughout the United States. With over 30 properties in 17 states, Out of the Box Ventures currently controls over 6 million square feet of big box stores, shopping centers and enclosed regional mall properties with plans to improve and expand upon these acquisitions.
Sternberg and Lionheart Capital are dedicated to working with best-in-class operators and partners such as Marriott International. Lionheart Capital has been able to execute numerous, marquee transactions due largely in part to Sternberg’s extensive industry relationships particularly with key institutional investors.
In March 2020, Sternberg became Chairman of OPES Acquisition Corp., or OPES, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. On June 30, 2020, OPES announced a definitive agreement to merge with BurgerFi International LLC. The OPES-BurgerFi merger closed on December 16, 2020 to form BurgerFi International Inc. Sternberg is the Executive Chairman of the post-combination company. BurgerFi is a fast-casual “better burger” concept that consists of approximately 125 restaurants nationally and internationally. The OPES team, led by Sternberg, evaluated over 50 potential targets and negotiated business combination terms with multiple candidates in a span of a few months and acquired BurgerFi at what it believed was an attractive multiple relative to its peers.
In addition, since its inception in December 2019, Sternberg has been the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lionheart Acquisition Corporation II, or LCAP II, a the company’s second SPAC (Nasdaq: LCAP). On August 21, 2020, the company raised $230M with its initial public offering and was welcomed into the Nasdaq family with the ringing of the opening bell.
While LCAP II is not limited in acquisition targets, it currently intends to focus its search for a target business that applies innovative digital technologies and technology-enhanced services and solutions to the identification, design, development, construction, operation, financing, management and disposition of real estate properties, commonly referred to as “PropTech.” LCAP II has not yet announced or completed its initial business combination. Sternberg is also the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the recently incorporated Lionheart III (Nasdaq: LHRT when listed) and Lionheart IV (Nasdaq: LHIV when listed, a SPAC that may seek to acquire a broad range of businesses.