José Milton, the Cuban-American founder of J. Milton & Associates and patriarch of the large family-run, real-estate enterprise based in Coral Gables, died Wednesday.
He was 83. A spokeswoman for the family said he died of “natural causes.’’
Milton was the son of Lebanese parents who had emigrated to Cuba in the 1920s. Milton worked with his father in the building business in Cuba before leaving the island for Miami in 1963.
An architect by training, Milton gravitated to development in Miami and early on focused on building affordable, garden-style apartments in Miami-Dade County. Later, the company turned to more upscale residences, focusing on luxury oceanfront condomimiums.
Over the decades, J. Milton & Associates developed more than 50,000 rental units and more than $2 billion in condominiums. Today the company manages a portfolio of some 15,000 rental apartments in Miami-Dade and Broward.
His company played a key role in the transformation of the Sunny Isles Beach skyline with high-rise projects such as Sands Pointe, Pinnacle, King David, Sayan and St. Tropez.
Milton relied on his children to help grow the integrated real-estate development, construction and property-management empire. His sons — Joseph Milton, Cecil Milton and Frank Milton — currently manage the daily operations.
The close-knit family typically gathered at the elder Milton’s Coral Gables residence every Sunday for lunch, according to a long-time business associate. “They worked for their father as teenagers and they got a good feel for the work ethic,’’ said Jerry Kaufman, who has long worked as a consultant to the company.
“My father was an extremely dedicated man, who had an attitude that success was not an option. His belief that sacrifice and hard work were a lifestyle clearly resulted in accomplishments that were not given, but earned,’’ his son Joseph Milton said in a statement. “Every day of his life, he pushed himself, and his children to strive for greatness. We will miss him dearly, but will apply his teachings and his work ethic to continue his legacy.”
Milton is survived by his three sons and his wife, Nilda Milton. Funeral services will be private.