20 under 40: Manny Angelo Varas
Businessman is also a designer, builder and out-of-box thinker.
Occupation: President and CEO of MV Construction Group, where he is a designer and builder
Family status: Newlywed (as of Nov. 8)
Lives in: Coral Gables
Some builders carve their legacy into the Miami skyline. Manny Angelo Varas leaves his imprint on the interiors of those buildings, directly affecting how design influences people in their daily lives. To date, his résumé lists involvement in designing nearly a million square feet inside some of South Florida’s most prestigious properties: BrickellHouse, Indian Creek, Fisher Island, Cocoplum and the St. Regis in Bal Harbour.
A decade ago, Varas was in the insurance business. At age24, he ran one of Florida’s leading flood insurance agencies, Professional Casualty Insurance. That was the same year Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of the “Top 100 Entrepreneurs in the Nation.” It was also the year President George W. Bush appointed him to the Presidential Business Commission.
Varas says he switched to his current career out of a love for buildings. Ever since 1993, when he witnessed the implosion of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas as a 13-year-old, Varas dreamed of one day entering the field. He still dreams of building a luxury hotel.
He is enrolled in Harvard University’s graduate school of design, after receiving an MBA from Florida International University. While juggling the demands of his design company, Varas flies to Boston every month to attend a week of classes at Harvard.
His projects have included both commercial and residential spaces, for clients as wide-ranging as public housing (Liberty City’s Liberty Square Apartments, his first project in 2005) and celebrity estates. To break into the luxury condo market, Varas offered his services for free at the Terra Beachside Villas in Miami Beach. Once the developer saw the results, he hired Varas to design 115 out of the building’s 117 apartments, Varas said. He also designs for individual homeowners and has worked with celebrities including rapper Lil Wayne and Mexican pop start Cristian Castro.
From Varas: “People have gotten engaged in my properties. People have gotten married in my properties. In some small way, I feel that I am creating for years to come for people who live in those units. Property and spaces transcend generations and decades.”
About Varas: “I think foremost he’s a bit of a visionary. He’s always thinking ahead. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker.” — Juan “J.C.” de Ona, Stonegate Bank executive and longtime friend.