SoFla Lease Roundup: Dade Paper & Bag Leases at Flagler Station II & More

Leases also at Downtown Miami’s Courthouse Tower and in Fort Lauderdale

By Amanda Rabines

Flagler Station II gets 70,000-square-foot industrial lease

PriceSmart just terminated its lease for 122,000 square feet at Flagler Station II in Medley, and signed on a 70,424-square-foot sublease with Dade Paper & Bag. PriceSmart still has two 35,000-square-foot spaces available for sublease, according to a press release.

The deals chip away at a 262,898-square-foot block that PriceSmart listed for sublease upon moving a majority of its operations to another building in the industrial park. Last year, it paid $45.56 million for its new 19-acre site at 10800 Northwest 100th Street.

Transwestern’s Ben Eisenberg, Walter Byrd, Thomas Kresse and Carlos Gaviria represented PriceSmart in the sublease with Dade Paper & Bag, a North American distributor of disposable food service and janitorial supplies.  Dade Paper & Bag was represented by Steve Medwin at Newmark Knight Frank.

Downtown Miami’s Courthouse Tower secures 27,400 square feet of leases

Five companies leased a combined 27,400 square feet of space at Downtown Miami’s Courthouse Tower, bringing its occupancy to about 75 percent.
In 2016, New York-based Brickman paid $27.5 million for the 26-story, 163,160-square-foot Courthouse Tower building at 44 West Flagler Street. Originally built in 1974, the tower sits across the street from the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, near All Aboard Florida’s Brightline station. The Consulate General of Jamaica inked a 6,651-square-foot contract. The company was represented by Zenith Realty Group’s Barron Channer.

Law firm Roig, Tutan, Rosenberg, Martin, Stoller & Bellido, PA renewed its 6,525 square foot lease and was represented by JLL’s Matthew Goodman and Jeff Gordon. The firm joins Maurice Jay Kutner & Associates PA , First Choice Reporting and Florida Mediation Group which also renewed their leases at the property.

Blanca Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord. Tere Blanca, President and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, said rents in the building range from $31 per square foot to $34 per square foot.

Since acquiring the building, Brickman has renovated the tower to include new elevators, a conference facility and a fitness center. Upgrades to the building’s façade, lobby, and common areas are also underwayTeree

Auto companies expand into Fort Lauderdale warehouse/office facilities

Two auto companies are expanding their footprint in Fort Lauderdale.

Mennet Cars LLC and Auto Beast LLC just leased about 35,590-square-feet of space at 735 West Broward Boulevard. The landlord, Best Buy Repos, Inc., was represented by Jaime Sturgis of Native Realty. Auto Beast LLC was represented by Native Realty’s Amanda Roy.

A spokesperson said the auto facilities were previously occupied, but one of the tenants retired and the other downsized.

Bridging the Gender Divide in Commercial Real Estate

Women in the field find the deck is largely stacked against them, even as some top firms have been celebrated for their inclusionary policies

By Katherine Kallergis

Barbara Liberatore Black’s rise to managing director of JLL’s South Florida office was not an easy one. Currently the only female executive in her office, Black was also one of the first women in commercial real estate in Miami.

She got her start doing tenant representation for Julien J. Studley Inc., the precursor to Savills Studley, in 1981. “I was the only female tenant adviser for years,” Black said. Before securing that gig, she’d tried to get her foot in the door elsewhere, to no avail.

“If you were a man today, I would hire you,” an interviewer told her, reasoning that as a woman who was going to get married, she wouldn’t have the time for the job. Instead, he offered Black a secretarial position. She turned it down.

Times have clearly changed, but in the wake of the allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Harvey Weinstein — and the many similar charges against high-profile men that followed, including starchitect Richard Meier — several, if not all, industries are facing profound questions about company culture and fairness.

However, many women in South Florida’s commercial real estate industry are not seeing a major push to close the gender gap. They say the #MeToo movement hasn’t kicked off the kinds of productive conversations it was intended to inspire. Rather, many male colleagues are “now afraid to say hello” to women, Carol Brooks, co-founder of the brokerage Continental Real Estate Companies (CREC), said. “It’s coming more from a place of their own self-preservation. It’s interesting to see how men are reacting; it’s more fear than compassion or anything,” she said.

The Real Deal examined the male and female representation of agents working for South Florida’s top five commercial brokerages (determined by the dollar volume of sales and leases as reported by the South Florida Business Journal) by analyzing broker license data filed with the state as of Feb. 23. Marcus & Millichap had the lowest percentage of female agents in the tri-county region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, with 18 percent.

Lori Schneider, senior managing director of investments at Marcus & Millichap, said she thinks the firm has fewer women than the others because the company focuses only on investment sales, which takes time and money “until you establish yourself.” Women typically have less of both than men, she said. Leasing, on the other hand, often provides agents with a crucial base salary.

CBRE had the highest percentage of women agents, with 39.8 percent, and JLL closely followed with the second highest representation of women, 38.6 percent, according to TRD’s analysis.

Both CBRE and JLL recently won industry awards for their gender inclusion. CBRE, where three of the firm’s board members are women, received the Diversity & Inclusion Award from the Mortgage Bankers Association in February. In March, JLL was named one of the National Association for Female Executives’ “Top Companies for Executive Women.”

CBRE and JLL’s numbers of female brokers in South Florida are better than national averages. The Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network Benchmark study conducted in 2015 — the most recent data set of its kind that’s available — showed that only 23 percent of leasing and sales brokers in the U.S. were women in 2015. But that number was up from 20 percent five years earlier. Between 2010 and 2015, women went from representing 32 percent of the total commercial real estate workforce to 36 percent nationwide. The subsector with the highest concentration of women was property management, with 51 percent of the asset, property and facilities management workforce female, up from 47 percent in 2010.

And while the CREW research found that women made 23.3 percent less than men in the field in 2015, all of the women contacted for this story had a different experience. Female brokers said that because most positions are commission-based, the wage gap isn’t much of an issue. “The good news about that is a woman who is driven can be equal or better [than a man], and she will get paid,” Black said. “I think this is one of the few careers where women get equal pay.”

The achievement gap

Although there’s been progress in overall male-to-female ratios, the gender gap is still quite vast when it comes to women in leadership positions. CREW’s 2015 study found that only 9 percent of the women who were surveyed held
executive roles, compared to 17 percent of the men who participated in the study.

The industry is also facing an aspirational gap between men and women. Forty percent of men surveyed by CREW said they wanted C-suite positions compared to only 28 percent of women. And once men had between six and 10 years of experience, they rose through the ranks at a faster pace than women, the report found.

“Men are much more vocal than women. When you don’t speak up and you don’t ask for the job, you don’t get it,” said Sara Hernandez, president of CREW-Miami.

Women developers are also lacking in the industry because the field requires a track record and capital, said Avra Jain, a commercial developer in Miami’s MiMo, Little Haiti, Miami River and Overtown neighborhoods.

“When I first came down to Miami [17 years ago] and I walked into a meeting to buy a piece of property, the broker kept talking to the man next to me,” Jain said.

The perils of after-hour events

“‘Welcome to the company. I Googled you hoping to find some bikini shots online,’” Pauldine France, vice president of strategic investments at FIP Commercial, recalled a man saying on her first day at a new job. “I once had a COO I ran into at a party who was trying to get me drunk to take me home. His wife was at the same party,” she added.

Most women in the industry who were contacted for this story agreed that there’s been some progress in hiring more women, but the presence of some bad actors remains a big issue.
France got her start in 2003 as a brand ambassador for Tony Cho when he launched Metro 1 Properties. She was later a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley, then worked for Shawmut Design and Construction in New York, Thor Equities in Miami and, more recently, spent a year working for RKF, also in Miami.

France is, as she describes herself, a “six-foot-tall black chick with green eyes.” She’s faced more than her share of unwanted attention, she told TRD. “I’m used to people looking at me. In commercial real estate, I am a unicorn of a unicorn,” she said. “I’ve had inappropriate, ‘let me take you home’ comments.”

The necessity of after-hours networking doesn’t help things. Going to nightclubs, strip clubs and bars is still a way to get deals done in Miami, sources said. There’s also still a lot of golfing.

“Half of these guys just want to party, and the business facilitates partying” said Mika Mattingly,
executive vice president of Colliers International South Florida.

Some women push themselves to head to the golf course or boozy networking events even when it’s uncomfortable. CBRE’s Carol Ellis-Cutler, first vice president of advisory and tenant services in Miami, attended a conference earlier this year where she was one of a handful of women out of a crowd of 800. She later attended the golfing event, where she was the only woman — alongside 32 men.

However, Ellis-Cutler and Arden Karson, senior managing director of CBRE South Florida, both said they also use their gender to their advantage. “Being the only woman at the table, they love that,” Karson said, referencing her male colleagues. She squeezed her way into a dinner during a CRE Finance Council event because she wanted to do business with the group.

“I was the only woman out of 20 people, and they all wanted to sit with me,” Karson said, noting that the extra attention she received was not inappropriate. The men, she said, just wanted to speak to a woman because it was “a refreshing change.”

Men can be more inclined to share information with women, some female brokers said. But that too can have its downside. There’s a fine line between being “approachable and nice” and being “firm,” France said. “You have to deliver this coolness while still keeping that meter stick in front of them,” she said. “Nine out of 10 times, ‘super cool’ can become ‘I can make comments about your new push-up bra.’”

Mentoring the next generation

When considering ways to resolve some of these murky issues, many women said that mentoring a new generation of female brokers is the most important work that needs to be done. And South Florida’s a good place for that: A number of women in leadership roles in commercial real estate own their own companies or work for women who do.

Brooks, of CREC, got her start working in the corporate real estate lending department at Southeast Bank and moved on to the Continental Companies, where she was director of the commercial office leasing department. In the
late ‘80s, she considered working at other brokerages and said, “Screw that, I’ll start my own company.”

At that company, a boutique commercial firm she co-founded with Warren Weiser, 51 percent of its 120 employees are female. Two of its six partners are women, and half of its department heads are women. More than 60 percent of CREC’s property managers are women, and 26 percent of the company’s brokers are women. “There are just such high barriers to entry otherwise, so we’ve created our own system,” Brooks said.

Her approach to nurturing female talent development has paid off in the eyes of Sabrina Stimming. Brooks mentored Stimming, who started as an executive assistant and was promoted to marketing assistant, then marketing director. An opening appeared in retail leasing, and now Stimming is director of retail leasing and a partner at CREC. She believes that had she started her career at a traditional brokerage like a CBRE, “it’s probably not likely I would be a head of a department there.”

“If you look around at other firms in our industry, the only women you see in any sort of leadership positions are women who form their own companies,” Stimming added.

Without a mentor, Collier’s Mattingly developed her own strategy for success that many women in the industry adopt: Be the best at the job. She’d pick a neighborhood or area and become an expert on it. “I picked Sunset Harbour, which I liked at the time, and I farmed the fuck out of it,” she said.

From Metro 1, where Mattingly started in 2006 as a commercial associate, she went to Sterling Equity Commercial, where she’d “transact all day off-market, but no one would trust me with big listings.” She eventually represented Moishe Mana in nearly all of his acquisitions in downtown Miami’s Flagler District, which to date has totaled $267 million on 1 million square feet of building space and eight acres of land.

In 2016, Mattingly joined Colliers and is building her team out of an office in downtown Miami. Although it’s not her own company, it’s clear that she’s running her own operation out of the ground-floor retail space on Flagler Street. She said she’s teaching her team to become neighborhood experts, as she did, by learning every property and zoning before they start selling.

Tere Blanca, founder, chairman and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, also wants to nurture female talent. She left Cushman & Wakefield to start her own firm in 2008 and is responsible for mentoring everyone in the 22-person office, including a few female agents. In her view, the lack of women in the field may stem from them just not knowing about it. “I don’t think a lot of young women understand the opportunities that exist in the industry,” she said.

Ellis-Cutler and some of her colleagues at CREW-Miami introduced themselves to a group of high school girls by telling them, “We don’t sell single-family homes. We can sell the entire multifamily building.”

CBRE created its Women’s Network in 2000; it now has 3,500 members nationwide and hosts quarterly events. The gender gap at CBRE and other major commercial brokerage persists, but Karson acknowledged that the firm’s numbers are going up.

Forging ahead

While women in commercial real estate today see some struggles and disparities, JLL’s Black said the industry has grown to include more women since she got her start in the early ‘80s. “The one thing I’ve noticed is that
women feel more empowered to say to their peers or their managers, ‘Hey, that was an off-color joke’ or ‘I didn’t really like the way you said that about me.’ Women are using their voice now to explain that it’s not right,” she said.

However, Black sees two areas where female representation is lacking: tenant advisory and capital markets, both of which are especially profitable sectors of the business. “That’s predominantly still occupied by men, but in time that will change,” she said.

Jain is also optimistic about closing the gender gap in development.

“We’re starting to see more women take on those roles within their families and more women who want to be developers,” Jain said.

Could The Fight Commercial Real Estate Market Affect Your Business?

Commercial real estate is at a premium, which means higher leasing costs and fewer options. Here’s how to find office space under these circumstances.

By Julie Bawden Davis

Has your company outgrown its office space? You might want to look for a new location sooner than later. Like the residential market, much of the commercial real estate market is currently tight.

“Be mindful of your timeline if you’re six months out from a lease termination, or you’re running out of space,” suggests Tere Blanca, CEO and founder of the commercial real estate brokerage firm Blanca Commercial Real Estate. “Given that markets are tight, you need a long lead time to ensure you can get the best possible space and deal terms,” she says.

If you’re set to renew your lease, you may find the rates rise substantially.

“Tighter markets tend to be more landlord-friendly and have higher rates,” says Blanca. “Business owners renewing leases often get major sticker shock in tight markets.”

Faced with rising leases and a growing workforce, many growing companies that aren’t ready to move have to make do with their current space.

“When moving isn’t yet an option, maximizing space comes into play,” says Blanca. “Tenants may have to convert bigger spaces into smaller huddle
rooms or take larger single offices and convert them to more open layouts with workstations for multiple employees.”

Why Finding the Ideal Office Space Is Important

Having the ideal workspace for your employees—one that offers sufficient space and desired amenities—can directly affect your bottom line.

“The reality is you spend more waking hours in the office than you do at home,” says Eran Roth, CEO and founder of commercial real estate investment firm iintoo. “Working in a space you like, with the right balance of privacy and social interaction, can make a huge difference in the motivation of the workforce and directly impacts worker morale, retention and overall feelings of compensation.”

For retailers, the location profoundly affects sales, believes Katherine Jensen, principal of Jensen Consulting, which specializes in writing and auditing commercial real estate leases.

“A storefront in a busy plaza with complementary neighbors is going to help increase the potential for sales and your visibility,” she says.
On the other hand, office space and its location may also influence your employees.

“Certain features such as being close to the subway, parking on site or perks like discount gym memberships could be deciding factors for potential employees,” says Jensen

The ideal office space can be critical to the culture of an organization, adds April Zimmerman Katz, owner and president of The Zimmerman Companies, a property management company, and Versa LLC, a provider of shared work space.

“One of the most expensive tasks any owner or employer has is to find, train and retain talent,” says Katz. “Employees will look carefully at the home a company has chosen. If a space doesn’t feel inspired, it may be harder to expect employees to follow suit.”

Tips for Finding the Right Office Space for Your Company

Locating the ideal office space in a tight commercial real estate market does take some time and dedication, but it’s possible. Try these tactics.

1. Think and plan ahead.

“Focus on the space you’ll need in 18 to 24 months,” says Alex Cohen, chief commercial real estate specialist for The Alex Cohen Team. “Most office leases are five to 10 years in term. Many companies in the growth mode decide on an appropriately-sized space based on their anticipated head count within the first year of the lease. It’s far better to anticipate more long-term growth than to make do with overcrowded conditions or have to relocate.”
One way to avoid having to relocate when you do run out of space is to negotiate and incorporate into the lease terms a right to more space that may become available in the building, adds Jensen.

2. Consider employee preferences.

“Look at where your employees are living and commuting from,” suggests Blanca. “Then choose a space that makes the most sense for the maximum number of employees. There will be a resulting increase in productivity thanks to decreased tardiness and absences.”

3. Look at flexible office options.

A traditional office may not be the answer in a tight market, suggests Katz.

“Look at co-working options that allow rapidly growing businesses to move into amenity-rich commercial real estate spaces immediately. Co-working can offer offices that can expand and contract with business as needed and allow owners to get down to work.”
Will Mitchell is co-founder and CEO of Contract Simply, a payment system software company. He is currently leasing a small office through a co-working space, and will soon be moving to a larger space with a six-month lease.

“We’ll be getting a pleasant ambiance, a kitchen, comfortable furniture, new desks and chairs, conference rooms, a great location and plenty of parking,” he says. “Our plan is to look for a permanent location once we triple in size.”
There’s definitely a rise in popularity of co-working spaces and requests for temporary office space, adds Clate Mask, CEO of Infusionsoft, a sales and marketing software company, and co-author of Conquer the Chaos.

“The commercial real estate market is likely a contributing factor,” Mask says, “as is the desire for mobility as businesses and employees become more global.”

4. Consider your company’s Gross Rental Occupancy Cost (GROC).

“GROC is an important calculation new tenants often have no knowledge of,” says Jensen. “This number illustrates the percentage of your revenue being spent on your rental costs. Ideally, a successful business should land between 10 to 20 percent. In a tight real estate market, it’s important to know your budget before diving in and signing a lease.”

Do These Three Words Best Describe Miami’s Office Market?

Tere Blanca, who was a voice of optimism in the local industry’s recession dark says, sounds off.

By Jennifer LeClaire

MIAMI—Flight to quality. Those were three words we heard over and over again after the commercial real estate industry imploded and left Miami’s office inventory largely dark in 2008.

“During the course of the past year, class A assets dominated the market, capturing more than 80% of the total positive net absorption across Miami-Dade County,” Tere Blanca, president and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate tells GlobeSt.com. “Further evidencing the trend of tenants making a ‘flight to quality,’ major in-market moves, new-to-market entries and expansions were influenced by companies choosing to establish their footprints in premier trophy assets, as well as newly delivered office product.”

Where do we go from here in Miami’s office space market? Blanca, who was a voice of optimism in the local industry’s recession dark says, has some specific predictions.

“In 2018, companies will continue to gravitate towards premier new office space, hyperconnected to amenities and public transit, to elevate their corporate brands and attract new talent,” says Blanca. “The launch of Brightline will bring more region-wide business crossover, particularly along the urban centers, and fuel talent mobility across the region.”

In addition to creative new amenity offerings within a building, Blanca points to several other significant key office space drivers. She points to walkability, proximity to ample residential offerings and varied retail.

“A building’s tenant mix will also influence a company’s vetting and selection process, particularly for new developments, so projects offering a more ‘curated’ approach to office leasing strategy will stand out,” Blanca says. (Looking for the next generation of office space needs? Check this out.)

Tere Blanca Makes 2018 Office Leasing Predictions

By Jennifer LeClaire

MIAMI—It’s been a decade since new office supply in Miami sat dark. What can we expect on the Miami office leasing front in 2018?

We caught up with Tere Blanca, founder and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, to get some thoughts. Her overarching view? She expects local economic fundamentals to remain strong and drive the success of the Miami office market in 2018.

“Key industries demonstrating significant employment growth include professional, financial, and legal services, as well as evolving industries such as technology and media, at a rate of 2.5% locally, which is double that of the 1.2% national growth rate,” Blanca tells GlobeSt.com. “These developments translate into 62,000 new jobs within those sectors during the past two years.”

(Savvy landlords are driving placemaking in the office sector. Find out more.)

In 2017, she notes, these industries contributed to more than half of the total leasing activity and accounted for the majority of expansions, a trend we expect will continue in 2018. Although new-to-market activity was on a steady decline over the course of the past two years, she expects improving economic factors in several Latin American countries, coupled with Miami’s continued global appeal, will yield higher net absorption from new market entries in 2018.

Blanca’s bottom line is clear. “Given the steady leasing momentum leading into the new year and limited new supply being delivered this year,” she says, “rents will sustain moderate increases and vacancy will continue a downward trend.”

One global investor is saying Miami is starting to shake off its seedy image. Get all the details.

Blanca CRE dives into property management

By Katherine Kallergis

Blanca Commercial Real Estate is jumping into property management.

Tere Blanca’s company announced it brought on Peter Romero to lead the new division. Romero previously managed an office and mixed-use portfolio of more than 1 million square feet at Taylor & Mathis and Cushman & Wakefield.

In October, Blanca brought on John Guitar from Florida East Coast Industries as managing director and vice chair. Guitar, who plans to lead the statewide expansion of the Brickell-based commercial brokerage, said he expects the property management division to include existing clients and new buildings.

Facing competition from co-working companies like WeWork, landlords are increasingly looking to build a sense of community in their buildings with unique programs, Blanca and Guitar said.

Romero’s team includes Arturo Cepero, a CPA and certified fraud examiner, and Diana Pubchara, chief marketing officer. Pubchara will focus on creating customized programs for landlords and will oversee brand development, according to a release.

RedSky scores construction loan for Cube Wynwyd

Developer just inked a lease with shared office concept Spaces

By Katherine Kallergis

RedSky Capital closed on an $18.27 million construction loan for an office building it plans to develop in Wynwood, property records show.

Bank of the Ozarks is providing the financing for Cube Wynwyd, an eight-story office building at 222 Northwest 24th Street. The project, with nearly 80,000 square feet of office space and about 11,400 square feet of retail space, will mark one of the first new office buildings in Wynwood. Construction is underway, according to a spokesperson for Blanca Commercial Real Estate, which is handling leasing.

JLL’s Aaron Appel and Jonathan Schwartz arranged the financing.

Asking rents range from about $38 to $42 per square foot triple-net for spaces that go up to a full 11,360-square-foot floor, Tere Blanca previously said. It’s 27 percent preleased to tenants that include Spaces, a shared workspace concept. Spaces just signed a nearly 24,000-square-foot lease at Cube Wynwyd, according to a spokesperson. Randy Carballo and Gavin MacPhail of JLL represented the co-working firm, and Blanca, Danet Linares and Flavia Eternod of Blanca Commercial represented RedSky.

Arquitectonica is designing the LEED-certified building, which will include a rooftop terrace and 30-foot breezeway with restaurant and retail tenants on the ground floor. It’s slated to open in 2018.

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.”

Click here to view the original article.

Real Estate Journal: From ink to reality, the new Wynwood takes shape

By Brian Bandell
September 15, 2017

Just under two years since Miami approved a new zoning plan for the Wynwood Art District, developers have proposed many projects that would introduce new uses to the neighborhood, often with architecture unlike anything found elsewhere in South Florida.

This could be the start of a second transformation for Wynwood. For the first time, there will be large-scale apartment buildings with hundreds of residents to activate the neighborhood at all hours, and multi-story office buildings housing professionals in cutting-edge industries.

What was once a gritty collection of warehouses for industries such as garment manufacturing and shoe sales was reinvented into a trendy tourist attraction with captivating street murals. Wynwood now has some of the most popular bars and restaurants in South Florida, and an increasing number of unique retailers. Some warehouses have been converted into office space, mostly by firms in the creative industries.

Many investors who paid eye-popping figures for property in the neighborhood are now looking to develop them. So far, 11 projects have been proposed in Wynwood, creating opportunities for residents and businesses who prefer modern spaces, but with a vintage industrial feel.

Ten of the proposed projects are either ground-up developments or major adaptive reuses under the new Neighborhood Revitalization District, which allows for buildings of up to 12 stories tall and 150 residential units per acre.

Combined, they propose 296,872 square feet of retail, 176,766 square feet of office space, 985 residential units, and 1,953 parking spaces. So far, three of those projects are under construction.

The 11th project is Mana Wywnood, a special area planned by New Jersey real estate investor Moishe Mana approved for up to 9.72 million square feet of mixed-use development. Mana is working on plans to build a trade center there to facilitate business between the Americas and East Asia, including showrooms, retail, restaurants, and a hotel. Mana Wywnood has yet to break ground as some issues with the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) regarding buried power lines are in negotiations.

Jon Paul Perez, VP of Miami-based Related Group, said he saw all the property flipping in Wynwood at rapidly growing prices three years ago and didn’t understand it. After a closer look at the neighborhood and how many people visit on a daily basis, the Miami-based developer has bought in big-time. Related Group is a co-developer of four projects there.

“I go to Wynwood to eat. I go to Wynwood to bars,” Perez said. “It’s gratifying to be doing one of the first large-scale developments in a place that I enjoy hanging out in.”

Office a big driver

In South Florida, multifamily development is often the most lucrative from a financial perspective so areas with flexible mixed-use zoning tend to attract a lot of residential projects. Wynwood is more balanced.

The 10 proposals under the NRD include three apartment buildings, one condo and one live-work projects versus four developments with office space. This is in a neighborhood that has few traditional office buildings, mostly converted warehouses.

Tere Blanca, CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate

Wynwood is an ideal location for office space because it’s a neighborhood where employees want to play, said Tere Blanca, CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, the broker for the Cube Wynwd office proposed by RedSky Capital and the office space component of the Wynwood DS parking garage by Goldman Properties.

Being near popular arts, food and beverage experiences makes a workplace more attractive for employees. Cube Wynwd, which should break ground in 30 to 45 days, is near Panther Coffee, and Wynwood DS is currently under construction near Wynwood Walls, she noted.

Blanca said there are no signed leases for either property yet, but there has been strong interest and at least one letter of intent.

“It’s only natural that office will flourish in the neighborhood,” Blanca said. “It has elements that are unique and are a draw to a very diverse demographic.”

The asking lease rates are $58 per square foot for Wynwood DS and $38 to $42 per square foot for Wynwd Cube, Blanca said. That’s comparable to rates in Brickell, downtown Miami and Coral Gables.

Blanca said office space in Wynwood won’t compete with those more traditional markets because it’s aiming for a different set of companies and workers. She also predicts that co-working firms will lease space in Wynwood.

“Three years ago, I would think Wynwood appeals to the creative industry like architects and communications and entertainment firms,” Blanca said. “Now it seems that it is drawing across all sectors of industries. Even law firms are considering Wynwood.”

Goldman Properties built Wynwood around office uses, said Joseph Furst, a managing director at Goldman Properties and chairman of the Wynwood (BID). More offices create more customers for restaurants, and more restaurants make the neighborhood more attractive for companies, he said. This could make Wynwood a great location for companies to lure talent, which is crucial in a tight labor market.

“I think we will be competitive with ‘Class A’ rents in the Central Business District if we are building ‘Class A’ buildings,” Furst said.

Related Group and East End Capital are building office space in the Wynwood Annex, which will share a parking garage with the Wynwood 25 apartments.

Perez said the partners chose office because new companies don’t want to be in typical corporate environments. He sees a market for technology-focused firms seeking 3,000 to 6,000 square feet of space. The employees in those firms then might want to live in the neighborhood too, he added.

Perhaps the biggest change in Wynwood is that people will soon be calling it home. The existing multifamily buildings are mostly small-scale. In late 2018, Wynwood 25 should have 289 apartments completed in the first wave of the neighborhood’s residential boom.

Many developers in Wynwood are testing out a relatively new design for South Florida, the micro unit. Apartments in Wynwood 25 will average 730 square feet, with the smallest in the low 400s per square foot.

Perez said Wynwood 25 was designed with extra amenities like an outdoor courtyard, a game room, a coffee bar, and an active rooftop with a garden, grilling area, cinema and pool, where residents can congregate.

“We want to create a whole new community within a building,” Perez said.

Most apartments in Wynwood 25 will ask under $2,000 in rent, he said. On a per square foot basis, this is similar to other new apartments in downtown Miami, but the small unit sizes bring the overall price down.

“The people who would be living there are price sensitive to rent and different than the person living in Brickell,” Perez said.

The new Wynwoodzoning allows developers of micro units to reduce parking requirements so not every unit has a space. Perez said Wynwood 25 will provide one space per unit so renters will have an option to park.

Meanwhile, Related Group and Block Capital Group are seeking foundation permits for Wynwood 26, with 174 apartments plus retail, and hope to break ground in 30 to 60 days, Perez said. To appeal to a young demographic, the commons areas will be designed by rock star Lenny Kravitz, he added.

The timing for W House is less certain because it’s planned as condos, in addition to office and retail, said Perez, who is partnering with Metro 1 Properties and Dragon Global there. Related Group is monitoring the condo market to determine the best time to launch sales. A decline in condo sales has put multiple projects in South Florida on hold.

Perez said condos at W House would be smaller and less expensive than in downtown Miami and Edgewater, perhaps $250,000 for a 500-square-foot unit. The advantage here would be for investors, who could buy a condo for less than in downtown Miami and probably have a higher profit margin renting it out, Perez said.

Once the first apartment buildings establish pricing in the residential market, that will clear the way for the W House condos and even more residential development, said Tony Cho, CEO of Metro 1 Properties, one of the earliest brokers to do business in Wynwood and owner of several local properties. He noted that Wynwood’s code allows short-term rentals.

“People can come in at $300,000 to $500,000 and own a piece of Wynwood,” Cho said. “It’s a market-rate condo product more catered toward millennials and creative people willing to live in smaller spaces with bigger amenities. It’s very leasable and will garner bigger returns.”

Developers are also counting on big returns from retail, which is a component of every proposed project in Wynwood. Cho said retail rents have continue increasing. He’s quoting over $100 per square foot from primary streets near Panther Coffee, and around $40 per square foot for side streets. Those rents are justified because most new tenants in Wynwood have been very successful, he said.

The good news for developers in Wynwood is that lenders are willing to finance projects in the neighborhood, said Charles Penan, executive VP of Miami-based Aztec Group, which has brokered loans on multiple properties in Wynwood.

“Wynwood is the only market in South Florida that’s not overbuilt in any asset class,” Penan said. “There’s a need for office, a need for apartments, a need for retail, and even a need for condos.”

An architect’s playground

The architecture in Wynwood’s new projects is far from the typical modern glass or Mediterranean style seen in most of South Florida. The proposed buildings are adorned with colorful art, crafted to harken back to the neighborhood’s history of repurposed warehouses, and designed with paseos acting like secret passages between streets. This creativity is not just encouraged, it’s mandated by the Wynwood Design Review Board created by the NRD.

About three-fourths of the projects have paseos, which will make it easier for pedestrians to navigate Wynwood’s long blocks, said Amanda Hertzler, executive managing director of architecture firm MKDA’s Wynwood office. Not only do paseos build on Wynwood’s theme as a neighborhood to explore on foot, they offer shelter from the summer heat in a place where shade trees are scarce, she said.

One functional reason that developers plan paseos in Wynwood is that lots are deep, Hertzler said. It’s hard to lease a 200-foot-deep space to a retailer because that’s bigger than their typical footprint. Designing paseos through the properly allows the developer to lease the interior space along the walkway to smaller retailers for pedestrians to discover once inside, she said.

“It is opening up the retail market to independent shops, which is the cornerstone of Wynwood,” Hertzler said.

MKDA designed Wynwood Park for ASG Equities and the Gindi family. Through adaptive reuse, a warehouse would be transformed into 41,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with outdoor seating, multiple paseos, and nearly an acre of open space in a park-like setting. The second floor would have micro food and beverage shops, like a food truck experience, Hertzler said. The concrete walls would be punched out to create windows.

At a warehousing building owned by RedSky at 2407 N.W. 2nd Ave, MKDA created a plan to rip off the roof and put in a second floor, most likely for a display showroom, she said.

One reason that adaptive reuse projects such as this are attractive for developers is that the parking requirements are grandfathered in, so no new parking is required. Akerman attorney Steven Wernick, who helped write the NRD code, said the ability to transfer development rights from existing properties to new developers who want height bonuses also encourages adaptive reuse.

“We are trying to create interesting cuts in buildings and ways to activate rooftops and parts of buildings that would otherwise be forgotten,” said Wernick, who represents Goldman Properties. “What I have seen is a commitment by the DRC and the business owners to push the envelope, but with creativity and flexibility so each project looks a lot different from the next.”

Hertzler is conducting a ton of feasibility studies for developers trying to figure out what would work from both a design and a financial perspective.

One of the more creative ideas she came up with was a stack of 20-by-20-foot steel cage cubes that would form a building, with each glass-enclosed cube containing a different type of user. Few areas in South Florida would even consider that, but Wynwood is different.

Architect Kobi Karp, who designed Wynwood 25, said the new projects in the neighborhood are like an art gallery of buildings.

“It’s a collection of designs from the architects who are trying to express themselves,” Karp said. “The more you are building off of the DNA of Wynwood, the more successful you will be.”

Karp said Wynwood 25 was designed to resemble stacked warehouses. It will have a paseo decorated with art exhibitions.

Much of the creativity in Wynwood comes from the investors, Karp said. Many of them are companies from New York that have developed in trendy neighborhoods like the Meatpacking District, so they have experience with urban renewal.

The next chapter

As the first wave of development rises in Wynwood, many investors and businesses are waiting to see how the neighborhood evolves.

After a whirlwind of major real estate purchases in Wynwood from 2014 through 2016, only one $10 million-plus deal has closed so far in 2017. Cho said investors have purchased many of the best lots in Wynwood and are in development mode working to produce returns, so there are fewer sales now. Plus, traditional financial institutions have grown more reluctant to finance acquisitions at high valuations in a new area, he said. Cho expects that the success of the new projects will spur more deals.

The one development type that has yet to be officially proposed in Wynwood, but is desperately needed, is a hotel, Furst said. He knows a couple of groups working on hotel plans, but financing them has been an issue because there’s no track record of hotels operating in Wynwood to set expectations for financial performance.

With so many tourists visiting Wynwood and staying there late into the night, there’s a strong case for a hotel, Penan said. It would probably be a boutique brand, not a Marriott or Sheraton, he said.

When a hotel does come to Wynwood, Hertzler said that would drive even more tourists to restaurants and retails because they could stay in the neighborhood longer instead of dropping by for a few hours. She said the huge prices developers have paid for property in Wynwood have made it difficult to financially justify a hotel.

With retail as the most valuable property type in Wynwood, Hertzler expects that ground-floor office tenants like MKDA will eventually be pushed out of their spaces to make way for shops. That would create more demand for multi-level office space in Wynwood. She expects that many developers will build three-story office buildings, instead of the maximum 12 stories, because those will be easier to lease.

“You have beautiful views eight stories up, but there’s a disconnect with the neighborhood that high,” Hertzler said.

Hertzler hopes that redevelopment in Wynwood will result in more shade and better sidewalks, which is required of new projects, so it will be easier to walk around on hot days.

Furst said as the BID’s budget grows from new development – it’s at $850,000 now – then it could start creating neighborhood amenities, such as parking/transportation and public spaces. He looks forward to building a woonerf, a Dutch-style pedestrian street, at Northwest 3rd Avenue with outdoor furniture and landscaping. The city is already preparing a request for proposals to design it.

As residential, schools, and food and beverage come in, that creates a walkable community with strong job creation and economic development opportunities, Wernick said.

“When you bring in those residential buildings, now residents have amenities and jobs that they may be able to walk to from their apartments.”

 

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South Florida lease roundup: Doral Logistics Center fills up & more

New leases also at the Miramar Park of Commerce and Royal Palm Office Park

August 2, 2017

Clockwise from top left, Miramar Park of Commerce, Royal Palm Office Park and Doral Logistics Center


Doral Logistics Center fully leased

The Doral Logistics Center, a 174,024-square-foot industrial complex, is 100 percent leased after an aircraft supply company leased the remaining 88,680 square feet, Transwestern announced.

Parts supplier NexGen Aero LLC will move into the south side of the building at 2900 Northwest 112th Avenue in Doral.

The landlord, Seagis Property Group, was represented by Transwestern’s Thomas Kresse, Walter Byrd and Ben Eisenberg, and Carlos Gaviria, according to a release. Wayne Schuchts, of Avison Young, represented the tenant.

Seagis Property Group owns about 10 million square feet of industrial real estate in South Florida, New Jersey and New York.

Miramar Park of Commerce gets 150,000 square feet of new leases, renewals and extensions

The Miramar Park of Commerce, a 5-million-square-foot business park, just announced three new leases, five lease renewals and three expansions. Sunbeam Properties & Development represented the park in the transactions. Cyborg Instruments, an online European furniture distributer signed a lease for 26,976 square feet of space in building MPC-7C at 3930 Executive Way in Miramar.

Roses Delight, a warehouse and distribution center for healthcare products, canned and dry foods, paper and disposables, leased 11,640 square feet of space in building MPC-11C at 2721 North Commerce Parkway.

Blue Wave Communications, a technology and cable company, leased 7,400 square feet of space in building MPC-2A at 10330 USA Today Way. Broker and global freight forwarder Promptus, LLC renewed its lease for 29,094 square feet, and corrections-related services company JPay, Inc., renewed its 24,487-square-foot lease.

Kone, Inc., represented by Gregg Raus of JLL, signed the largest lease extension. The elevator and escalator company extended its lease for 18,959 square feet of space at 3421 Enterprise Way. Its location at the Miramar Park of Commerce serves as an office, warehouse and distribution center for associated parts.

The Miramar Park of Commerce has about 180 tenants and 5.2 million square feet of warehouse and office space.

Royal Palm Office Park in Plantation gets 54,603 square feet of new-to-market and renewed leases

Royal Palm Office Park, a 465,592-square-foot office park in Plantation, announced 54,603 square feet of new-to-market and renewed leased space at the office park, according to a release. Blanca Commercial Real Estate’s Tere Blanca, Danet Linares, and Flavia Eternod represented the landlord. According to LoopNet, asking rents are $26.50 per square foot.

Brookfield Hospitality Properties, an arm of Brookfield Asset Management based in New York inked a 40,310-square-foot lease space at the park. Other tenants include iConstructors, a Tampa-based construction company, and Province, which will lease 2,093 square feet. In total, 44,242 square feet of new leases were signed at the park at 900 and 1000 South Pine Island Road.

Lease renewals include the party rental space The Daily Room and accounting firm Rosenbaum Sobel, PA.

The Lincoln Property Co., a Dallas, Texas-based real estate investment firm, bought the park from Duke Realty for $128 million in August 2014. — Amanda Rabines

 

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