Still, the foreclosure fight looms. Now he's in the process of trying to force a resolution with the lender that doesn't end with him losing the hotel. His plan: bring an investor to pay off the mortgage. "It will give me peace of mind," Abravaya said. "It's well within our reach."
Abravaya became a hotel owner and operator after other careers, but his father and grandfather both owned hotels in Miami Beach at some point. With the benefit of history, he knows there will always be demand for Miami Beach. And, if reservations are any indication, for the Cavalier Hotel.
Rooms are all sold for the New Year's holiday, and he's expecting good crowds for the Jan. 7th BCS National Championship Game -- maybe even patrons who will order the expensive items from the restaurant menu.
"Our reservations are very good," he said. "We're ahead at this point of where we were last year, which is encouraging."
His main concern: another downturn sparked by Washington if Congress and the White House can't reach agreement on debt reduction before automatic spending cuts and tax hikes hit on Jan. 1. It's a fear shared by economists, who say the United States going over the so-called "fiscal cliff" for an extended period of time would send the United States into a second recession.
"It should be a good year," he said. "If they get a deal."
When the bottom fell out of construction in South Florida, architecture firms like Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Assoc. felt the blow.
Founded in 1967, the Coral Gables firm had grown over the years, designing hotels, office buildings and condominium towers, primarily in Florida.
Among its local projects: The Plaza on Brickell, Quantum on the Bay and 1450 Brickell.
"For us the recession hit probably later than for a lot of people, because of the nature of our work," said Bruce Brosch, president of NBWW. "Large-scale projects take a long time to cycle through, to design and document a project, and a long time to build. If all systems are go, it takes three to three and a half years."
So, even though several projects were put on hold at the start of the recession, the firm was able to sustain itself with two major ones: Met 2 in Miami and the former Seville Beach Hotel in Miami Beach.
"Those two helped us cushion the blow, if you will," Bosch said. "But we were certainly affected."
Revenue fell by 20 percent each of first few years of the recession, down a total of about 60 percent at the lowest point, said Brosch, declining to provide figures.
And the firm, which had peaked at 70 employees in 2008, fell to just 25 architects and support staff by 2010. It used the down time to upgrade its technology to three-dimensional drawings.
Now, at the five-year anniversary of the recession, NBWW is on the mend.
"Clients started calling again," Brosch said. "Most of our work is repeat business, for developers we've known for years."
The firm just completed the James Royal Palm, is currently working on a major project in Panama City, Panama, and is starting Met 3 in Miami, as well as doing more additions at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
Over the past 18 months, NBWW has been able to start rebuilding its staff, and is now up to 35 employees.
"It feels good to be hiring," Brosch said.
Revenue is also on the rise, though not yet at its pre-recession peak.
"A lot of projects are in the design stages," he said. "And if a significant percentage takes it to working drawings, we will be back at our height."
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