Blanca Commercial plans statewide expansion after hiring Guitar from All Aboard Florida

By Brian Bandell
October 31, 2017

John Guitar, Blanca Commercial Real Estate

Miami-based Blanca Commercial Real Estate announced plans for a statewide expansion after hiring John Guitar from the developer of All Aboard Florida.

Guitar was named managing director and vice chairman of Blanca CRE. He was previously senior VP of business development for Florida East Coast Industries, where he led the development and leasing of its All Aboard Florida projects that are being built near the Brightline transit stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Blanca CRE is the leasing broker for All Aboard Florida’s two new office buildings at MiamiCentral and worked closely with Guitar on that project.

“We are thrilled to welcome a respected professional of John’s caliber to lead our firm’s next phase of growth continuing to focus on delivering exceptional client service and top industry insight,” said CEO Tere Blanca, who founded Blaca CRE in 2009. “Beyond his extensive knowledge and experience, John’s collaborative nature, enthusiasm, passion and commitment to excellence align perfectly with our culture. He will apply his expertise to lead our growth strategy and bring tremendous value to our clients and our entire team.”

Blanca CRE ranked No. 15 on the Business Journal’s Commercial Real Estate Brokerages list with $215 million in deals in 2016, mostly office leases. The company has focused on Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but it now plans to open offices and hire brokers in other Florida markets.

“The Blanca Commercial Real Estate platform is unique and special,” Guitar said in a statement. “I am excited by the opportunity to work with its stellar team of passionate real estate professionals who share an unwavering commitment to client service and apply my knowledge, skills and talents to further drive its growth and expansion as the region’s leading independent commercial real estate brokerage firm.”

Reached by the Business Journal, Guitar said it was time for a change after 14 years with FECI and he was impressed by the way Blanca Commercial managed client relationships with great dedication. He has experience working and hiring real estate professionals throughout the state.

Blanca CRE won’t grow for growth’s sake, Guitar said. When existing clients want the company to help it in other Florida markets, the brokerage will work to locate there and meet their needs, he said. It won’t open an office in a new Florida market without a client there first.

“We’ve had a trajectory of growing slowly in how we hire our talent,” Blanca said. “Talent needs to completely align with the culture of our company.”

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Flagler Street upgrade downtown delayed once again

By Catherine Lackner
October 24, 2017

The glacial pace of Flagler Street’s renovation downtown has built frustration since the project was proposed in 2011. Last week, directors of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority agreed to another delay, this one for three months. Supporters say it’s a good thing.

“The task force is recommending a 90-day pause,” said Brian Alonso, who co-chairs the Flagler Street Task Force with Neisen Kasdin, authority vice chair and office-managing partner of Akerman LLP. “And, based on the history, this was not taken lightly.”

Moishe Mana, who has invested in Wynwood and bought a portfolio of Flagler Street properties, wants to study with his architect, Bernard Zyscovich, a possible incorporation of cobblestones into the driving surface, said Mr. Alonso, a principal in his family’s real estate business.

Mr. Mana will pay for the study, which comes as the project is between contractors. The city fired the first, F.H. Paschen; Lanzo Construction has been chosen to continue the work but isn’t under contract yet. The board didn’t discuss whether Mr. Mana would contribute to the upgrade if the study finds incorporating the pavers is the way to proceed.

Adding cobblestone would probably require drainage changes and add engineering challenges, so reconstruction can’t go forward in tandem with the study, said board and Flagler Task Force member Gary Ressler, a principal of the Tilia family of companies, which owns the historic Alfred I. Dupont Building at 169 E Flagler St.

“90 days?” asked board member Danet Linares, executive vice president of Blanca Commercial Real Estate. “We’ve already lost so much time. And this is coming at the 11th hour.”

Mr. Mana is the street’s largest stakeholder, said Ken Russell, authority chair and Miami commissioner, and it’s appropriate that he weigh in on the project.

Construction began in early 2016, but only one block has been finished. Authority members faulted Miami’s Office of Capital Improvements for not supervising the contractor. Multiple problems at the jobsite have include a maze of underground utilities that didn’t conform to site maps and other unforeseen obstacles.

The project began before Mr. Mana acquired his properties, Mr. Ressler said. “Mana is now the largest property owner on Flagler, and he is passionate about the street’s success.” The street is already shut down and there is usually a construction moratorium in November and December for the holidays, he said.

“It’s a moment in between,” Mr. Zyscovich said. “It’s three months at no cost to the city, to see if this is worth doing, and it’s the last possible moment” to make such a large-scale change before reconstruction resumes.

“Does the city accept?” asked board member Jerome Hollo, vice president of Florida East Coast Realty.

“We don’t object,” said Jeovanny Rodriguez, director of the Capital Improvement Program. “We realize it’s going to take time; there’s a question of the impact on utilities. We can’t do the construction at the same time.”

“It’s a matter of doing it right versus doing it fast,” Mr. Russell said. “I really trust the task force; they’re the stakeholders on the street.” Directors agreed, and unanimously approved the pause.


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