MIAMI – Aug. 7, 2015 – Prominent Miami real estate attorney Albert D. Quentel, a Shareholder with international law firm Greenberg Traurig, passed away Thursday, Aug. 6. Quentel, who is best known for helping his longtime client create the town of Miami Lakes and writing Florida’s first condominium statute, was 80. He died of natural causes at his South Miami home.
The lifelong Miami native joined Greenberg Traurig in 1971 as the fifth-named partner, bringing with him key clients including The Graham Companies, which he had represented since 1960. Quentel had worked closely with the Graham family on the development of the 3,000 acres of the family’s land that in 1962 became the new town of Miami Lakes. He laid the legal groundwork for the award-winning planning, extensive landscaping, parks and open space that would eventually become the calling card for Miami Lakes. Quentel did everything from creating the rules that govern how homes look in Miami Lakes to forming the water and sewer utility, as well as the taxing district to maintain the city parks.
As one of Greenberg Traurig’s first lawyers, Quentel played a key role in the development of the real estate practice that became one of the firm’s largest and most-recognized practice groups. The firm continued to grow over the years and today has approximately 2000 attorneys serving clients from 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
“We lost a great friend, a great lawyer, and a great visionary,” said Larry J. Hoffman, Founding Chair of Greenberg Traurig. “We were very fortunate that he was part of the Greenberg Traurig family for more than 40 years. His memory will live on in the legacy he created of award-winning and caring real estate practitioners, not just at this firm, but throughout the state.”
Known as the “dean of condominium lawyers,” Quentel helped write Florida's first condominium statute in 1963 as part of a team of three law firms hired by Arvida Corporation. Quentel pioneered the concept of two-unit condominiums to facilitate separate ownerships in mixed-use projects, established the legal precedent to speed the delivery of zero-lot-line homes, and developed strategies to save Florida taxes. His work for Arvida included most of the developer’s Miami-Dade County residential developments in the late 1970s and early 80s.
“When I joined the law firm of Greenberg Traurig Hoffman Lipoff Rosen & Quentel, PA, in 1985, Al was already a legend in the Florida real estate world. But what I remember most was how much of a gentle soul he was, and what an approachable gentleman he could be, even to me as a third year associate,” said Richard A. Rosenbaum, Greenberg Traurig Chief Executive Officer. “He was always generous with his time, universally well-known and liked, and a pleasure to be around. Even recently, we exchanged nice messages on the firm's anniversary.”
Cesar L. Alvarez, Greenberg Traurig Co-Chairman, said: "As a first-year associate in 1973, I worked closely with Al and experienced the gentle nature, extraordinary humanity and keen intellect of this wonderful man. With his smile and incredible patience, he taught me about unyielding integrity and passion for clients and the law, the things that he strongly believed were the cornerstone of a great lawyer. I will always remember the tall Southern gentleman with his signature Panama hat who loved all of humanity and would always welcome everyone with a gentle smile and a sweet disposition. The Greenberg Traurig family lost a unique part of itself. I will miss my friend and partner of over 42 years."
Added Matt Gorson, Greenberg Traurig Co-Chairman: “Al was a true gentleman and an incredibly talented attorney. He was very thoughtful and academic in the way he approached the real estate industry and business. He enjoyed analyzing challenges and finding creative solutions. Anyone who lives in what is now Miami Lakes owes a great deal to Al’s legal genius. His love for community and for education also served Florida well.”
Quentel was the type of lawyer who found ways to make things happen for his clients. When Neiman Marcus wanted to build its store at Bal Harbour Shops with an open four-story atrium and glass elevators, designers were told it couldn’t be done under the South Florida Building Code without an enclosure. Quentel instead used closely spaced fire sprinklers to produce a wall of water that would meet the requirements.
He worked with client, Corporate Property Investors, on the purchase of key South Florida properties including the Southeast Financial Center in Miami and Town Center in Boca Raton. Over the years, the variety of new development projects he touched ranged from the Key Colony condominium on Key Biscayne to Harry B. Helmsley’s Palace condominium on Brickell Avenue. He helped the Pugliese Company acquire 41,000 acres that was planned to become the City of Destiny on the Florida Turnpike.
In 1985, Quentel began concentrating on representing pension funds, including five state funds, in real estate equity purchases and sales, real estate lending, and occasional real estate borrowing. Transactions took place in 16 states.
Days before his death, Quentel had been at the firm’s Miami office, where he regularly worked at least several days a week. He loved talking to clients and debating legal matters with colleagues. Quentel strongly believed that keeping himself active intellectually was the key to a long and meaningfully productive life.
“He really enjoyed going to the office; that was his primary interest. He thrived on the intellectual stimulation and challenging environment of Greenberg Traurig,” said Paul Quentel, one of his six sons. “He also liked giving guidance to younger attorneys. He wanted to mentor others so they could learn from his experience.”
Son Lee Quentel noted that his father “took great pride in the lifelong friendships he had established throughout the state of Florida and beyond during his distinguished career.”
Along with all of his legal achievements, Quentel prided himself on his accomplishments at the University of Florida, where he earned both his bachelor’s degree in 1956 and his law degree in 1957. As an undergraduate, Quentel served as Editor-in-Chief of The Florida Alligator and a member of the prestigious Florida Blue Key. He graduated with honors from UF’s Levin College of Law and served as Editor-in-Chief of the UF Law Review.
To honor Quentel’s memory and his passion for caring, the family has requested donations be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the National Parkinson Foundation.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S. Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33156. Visitation will be held from 4- 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at Plymouth Congregational Church, 3400 Devon Rd., Miami, FL 33133. Al was a longtime active member of Plymouth, serving in various leadership roles at the church throughout his life.
A devoted father and husband, Quentel was pre-deceased by his wife Paula Hagar Quentel. He has been a life-long role model to his six sons: Albert Jr., Miami; Stephen (wife Lori), Maine; Lee, Montana; Paul (wife Michelle), Miami; Peter, Miramar; and Michael (wife Rebecca), Toronto. He is also survived by companion Clara Sue Stegemann; five grandchildren: Kaitlin, Micah, Caleb, Kaiya and Jacques; great grandson Gabriel, and another great grandchild on the way.