Opinion: Landlords are adopting ‘must-have’ technologies to remain competitive

Predictions For South Florida CRE in 2020

December 18, 2019

By Deidra Funcheon

So 2019 is drawing to a close, having given the world of commercial real estate things we expected — like a booming industrial market — and things we didn’t (WeWork and opportunity zones were among the greatest flops of the decade). Bisnow asked some South Florida real estate pros what 2020 may bring. Here are their thoughts:

Jeff Gordon, vice president, JLL:“We have a number of interesting new office developments delivering or in the pipeline across Miami’s office market over the next few years. This will create variety and optionality not previously seen in Miami as it pertains to emerging submarkets, deepening options in changing submarkets and the way in which the office use is amenitized with other product types across the market as a whole. This variability will provide opportunities for tenants that approach their future leasing with a proactive strategy. In line with this, it will also be interesting to see the impact that the continued expansion of the Virgin Trains stations will have on the connectivity of Aventura and Boca with our Central Business Districts and the continued goal of connecting Florida’s growing talent and workforce.”

 

Tere Blanca, founder and CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate:

“Miami’s vibrant and diverse economy, its business-friendly environment (and tax advantages) and its convenient lifestyle and connectivity to the world via Miami International Airport will continue to spur the relocation to Miami of talented professionals and companies across various industries both domestically and internationally.
Key factors driving this movement include this increase in people relocating here due to tax incentives including the lack of a state income tax. The strong population growth in the past five years, with continued projected growth, will continue to motivate companies to establish a presence in Miami. Also, the uncertain political climate in key Latin American countries may attract investment into Miami from these markets that include Mexico and other nations. With limited new office supply delivering in 2020 and robust demand from companies touring the market, we expect the market to remain stable and steady with positive absorption and modest increase in rents. Also, new office deliveries in 2020 will be well-received given Miami’s persistent flight-to-quality trend and this in turn will drive owners of older, existing buildings to undertake strategic renovations to remain competitive. With flight-to-quality prominent among tenants today, we expect new supply to attract tenants across various submarkets, while also attracting new-to-market entrants.”

Courtesy of Tere Blanca Tere Blanca, founder, chairman and CEO of Miami-based Blanca Commercial Real Estate.

Cory Yeffet, director of acquisitions, Integra Investments:
“We expect multifamily development and sales to remain active in 2020. Although rent growth has slowed due in part to significant new supply, demand remaining strong and multifamily cap rates remaining at record lows will continue to support a healthy development and sales environment. This is why Integra continues to be active in the sector, with four multifamily projects under development in South Florida, including the 315-unit Bella Vista project in Lauderdale Lakes, which we intend to deliver and stabilize in 2020. The biggest commercial real estate concern we see for 2020 is the uncertain impacts of the election year, and how global economic and sociopolitical dynamics may slow down private sector expansions.”
Doug Jones, co-founder and managing partner, JAG Insurance Group:
“For about the last 10 years, rates have consistently gone down. But with the influx of natural disasters, reinsurance went up in 2019 and that will continue in 2020. That trickles down to the consumer. Also, while risk of sea level rise continues to be a concern, thanks to the recent expansion of the private flood market, consumers will actually have more options in 2020 than ever before to make sure their assets have the proper coverage.”

David Druey, Florida regional president, Centennial Bank:
“I predict minimal, if any, slowing down in deal flow of construction financing in any of the major sectors. Smart developers are seizing the opportunities of low interest rates through use of bank financing for construction financing and securing forward commitments with institution investors for stabilized projects. The ongoing major risk is if the developer can actually complete the project on time and budget. Most of the more substantial projects, outside of apartments, typically have the stabilization piece solved prior to construction commencement.”

Ronald Fieldstone, partner, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr:
“The new EB-5 regulations went into effect at the end of 2019 and we are still seeing increasing interest from investors, especially from Latin America, in the EB-5 program despite the higher threshold. Over the past 10 years, developers have grown dependent on raising EB-5 capital to finance their projects due to the low cost of EB-5 borrowing. We expect it to continue to remain a viable source of financing for development projects in downtown Miami west of Biscayne Boulevard, Little River, areas around Miami International Airport and certain sections of Coconut Grove.”
Stephen Rutchik, executive managing director, Colliers International:
“Although one of the original iterations of coworking, WeWork has collapsed on a corporate level, I expect that the concept and most of the existing locations will continue to perform well over the next year. On a larger scale, office landlords in South Florida are increasingly incorporating the coworking concept into existing office buildings. This is attracting new tenants who previously would have either been priced out of traditional office space or who require flexibility that a traditional lease cannot provide. The coworking concept is much larger than WeWork. It has quickly become a part of the American office culture and I expect this trend to grow in the coming years.”

Adam Lustig, partner and incoming real estate practice group leader, Bilzin Sumberg:
“With continued low interest rates, increased employment and significant population growth, I expect the South Florida real estate market to remain strong in 2020. In particular, I see health-related real estate and senior housing as areas of opportunity with the aging of the population and the need for urgent care centers, hospitals, medical office space and senior housing facilities. As shopping center owners try to adapt to dramatic changes in the retail market, medical, health and wellness uses will continue to expand. The major threats to continued growth in South Florida remain traffic, lack of public transportation and affordable housing. One other threat that is not being talked about enough, but that we are very focused on, is the phase-out of Libor at the end of 2021 which affects trillions of dollars of commercial real estate loans.”

Chris Chakford, managing director of origination, Kawa:
“Kawa sees ground leases as an ongoing trend in 2020 as banks pull back on commercial fee simple financing in non-core markets, most notably in hospitality and office sectors. With sponsors needing creative solutions to fill out capital stacks and lessen their equity requirement, Kawa has created a ground lease program that offers a complete financing solution to meet these needs. This type of financing vehicle offers a highly adaptable bifurcation structure that accommodates owners’ needs while typically enhancing returns, providing tax benefits, being nonrecourse, and mitigating interest rate risk by offering perpetual financing. In the last three years, Kawa has executed 12 ground lease transactions with a total value in excess of $652M and anticipates ground leases to be a prominent alternative for providing creative financing solutions with flexible capital that can be deployed quickly as we look ahead into 2020.”

Peter Mekras, president of Aztec Group:
“2020 is likely to be a year filled with volatility. Interest rates and the political environment both locally and nationally will be the main drivers of market volatility in 2020. Irrespective of the trend of volatility in 2020, we expect capital markets to remain liquid. Equity capital will continue to flow into Florida real estate in 2020. Florida will maintain its label as one of the few states positioned for strong long-term fundamentals and a uniquely favorable business environment for real estate investors. Florida is projected to experience better than national trend employment growth and will continue to benefit from strong population growth. Rental apartments, senior housing and well-located office and shopping centers will be the beneficiaries.”

Lissette Calderon, president and CEO of Neology Life Development Group:
“Allapattah is seeing significant residential and commercial real estate investment underway that will enhance the neighborhood’s appeal and quality-of-life offerings. With Miami’s growing population seeking lifestyle living alternatives within the urban core at attainable price points, our mission is to provide a solution to this need by developing attainable luxury rental units that are modern, functional and offer upscale amenities.”

Michael C. Brown, executive vice president and general manager, Skanska USA Florida:
“Come the new year, I anticipate the two sectors poised to fuel Miami’s economic growth will be healthcare and higher education, which continue to be the largest sectors for us across the state and in South Florida. I believe we will also continue to see a more pronounced shift into environmentally friendly building, specifically with companies looking to minimize their carbon footprints.”

Martin Melo, principal, The Melo Group:
“2020 will prove to be a year full of challenges, mostly driven by the political landscape throughout Latin America, the upcoming elections and the increasingly low interest rates and low income tax in Florida. We can expect to see an influx of new residents who come to South Florida searching for a more attractive and stable socioeconomic climate as opposed to the current situation in their own countries. The demand for multifamily and market-rate apartments will continue to rise and interest rates will remain low, which will ultimately spark a bigger interest from developers and investors in the area.”

Shawn Gracey, executive vice president of hospitality, Key International:
“As the hospitality industry becomes increasingly diverse, there will be even more emphasis on presenting a unique value proposition to today’s travelers. We’ve found that our customer profile is seeking experience-based and design-driven accommodations in key coastline cities, which led us to develop the AC Hotel by Marriott in Fort Lauderdale Beach, which will be one of the newest, upscale select-service properties in the area when it’s delivered next year.”

Rishi Kapoor, CEO, Location Ventures:
“Pointing to various indicators, the fortress submarkets of Miami’s luxury condo inventory are the prominent choice in 2020, compared to areas of oversupply. Foreign buyers will remain a challenge, despite promising pockets from target countries in Latin America; the true stability is in the end user, who traditionally purchases a primary residence rather than investment product, and is more likely to focus on lifestyle moves in the market. This is why more protected submarkets, such as Coral Gables, will be a strategic play, as we’re seeing a wave of retirees or empty nesters, coupled with growing families, seeking to place roots in a neighborhood with a thriving business environment, limited top-tier condo product and a historic record for stability.”

Miguel Díaz de la Portilla, attorney, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr:

2020 will be an exciting year of American Dream Miami. We have our land use and zoning approvals in place and will be finalizing the design of the project, applying for administrative site plan approval, and moving forward with continuing to work on infrastructure. This will all be happening at a time when people from all over the world are beginning to experience the magnificence of American Dream Meadowlands in New Jersey. Triple Five just opened the entertainment center that serves as a sneak peek to how American Dream Miami will look and the tremendous benefit that it will have on our local economy.”

Opinion: Landlords are adopting ‘must-have’ technologies to remain competitive

Opinion: Landlords are adopting ‘must-have’ technologies to remain competitive
November 25, 2019

Tere Blanca is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Inc., an independently owned commercial real estate services firm headquartered in Miami.

Radically transforming commercial real estate, new technology — much of it in the form of convenient, user-friendly apps — is being adopted by property owners wishing to remain relevant and competitive. Landlords who want to work smarter, protect their properties, and attract and retain tenants, do well to become acquainted with future-forward technology redefining property management and tenant relations.

While numerous contenders may vie for attention, the following are tried-and-tested options being used in many commercial spaces throughout Miami.

One of the original ground-breaking companies in the industry, Kastle Systems, established more than five decades ago, provides an integrated platform of cutting-edge solutions, delivering both excellent consumer experiences and landlord peace-of-mind. Tenants can conveniently open or unlock property doors with their smartphones, doing away with the need to carry cardkeys or fobs, while allowing landlords to entrust the task of making their space safer to a dedicated team.

On call 24/7, they provide video surveillance, visitor and identity management tools, and monitors alarms, security reports, repairs and more. CUBE WYNWD, a RedSky Capital office project, relies on Kastle Systems to provide top security and access for its tenants. Additional disruptors in the security systems space include Kisi and Openpath.

Another provider of advanced technology that has become invaluable for landlords seeking to better understand real space needs and save costs — Mapiq tracks activity within your office space and building common areas in a single dashboard. A heatmap reveals how people are concentrated throughout the building or a space.

The data, collected in the analytics dashboard provides quantified statistics over time, enabling confident, strategic decisions. For employees, this cloud-based solution facilitates finding available desks and meeting rooms and other employees. With Mapiq, landlords, tenants and employees access tools which effectively position them to have control over their environment.
Additional solutions include Jabra, TrueView Heatmap by Mirame.net and several others that are in development phases.

A third resource — award-winning HqO, connects tenants to their community, facilitates commerce, and provides content, among other features. This app provides the means to maximize positive tenant experiences and strengthens the tenant-landlord relationship.

HqO enables tenants to pay for the amenities and services offered throughout the building; be apprised of events taking place on or near the property, and receive timely notifications, while also providing messaging and concierge services. It can also be used to control the environment in the building, including opening doors and accessing common areas. HqO brings a wealth of information and a smart tool for communication which tenants can access by simply picking up their smartphones.

Other apps that focus on the tenant experience include Comfy, Bixby and SkyRise, and many traditional property management platforms are also launching similar tools.

Yet another innovative option is Motionloft, developed by a leader in artificial intelligence and computer vision, it is rapidly gaining in popularity. Utilizing wireless sensors, Motionloft gathers real-time vehicle and pedestrian data, enabling developers to gauge foot traffic and attract retailers accordingly. Currently, Goldman properties in Wynwood utilizes this solution, allowing them to gauge traffic throughout their retail and dining spaces.

A fifth tool, Kepler Analytics is designed to decrease operating costs and enhance customer satisfaction. Kepler analytics measures sales in stores outfitted with sensors which allows it to monitor individual stores to entire regions — forecasting which stores will meet daily targets and which might need a little attention. It also controls access.

RetailNext, ShopperTrack and Aislelabs are also similar tools being leveraged in the retail sector.

Commercial real estate landlords who expand their offerings to include mobile platforms and future-forward technology are amplifying their competitive edge, facilitating how they market their properties, and securing tenants and their properties. Using one’s phone to book a conference room, pay rent, learn about an upcoming event, access building areas, and much more, is a convenience tenants will soon come to expect.

Savvy landlords will do well to stay at the forefront of the technology curb as this technology becomes more ubiquitous and helps to shape the future of commercial real estate.

Tere Blanca is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Inc., an independently owned commercial real estate services firm headquartered in Miami. She may be reached via email at tere.blanca@blancacre.com or via LinkedIn here. www.blancacre.com.ents will continue to hold with moderate rent increases, if any.”

Demand for Miami office space remains strong as companies relocate to the region

Demand for Miami office space remains strong as companies relocate to the region
November 15 , 2019
By Rebecca San Juan

“It’s a healthy office market,” said Blanca CEO and President Tere Blanca.

Demand for office space continues to rise as companies from outside of Florida relocate to Miami-Dade County, driving up average asking rates by more than 5 percent from a year ago. An increase in co-working spaces also played a significant role.

The average weighted asking rate grew for Class A and Class B office space, according to the Blanca Commercial Real Estate third quarter 2019 market report released this week.

For Class A space, average weighted rates grew 5.6% year over year, from $45.51 per square foot in the third quarter 2018 to $46.37 per square foot in the third quarter 2019. The highest average asking rates were in Brickell, at $59.10 per square foot, and Wynwood/Design District, at $55.97 per square foot.

The average asking rates for older, simpler Class B space crept up slightly, from $33.39 per square foot in the third quarter 2018 to $33.47 a square foot in the third quarter 2019. But the class suffered a loss of 248,000 total square feet, primarily in the Miami Airport market.

The vacancy rate for Class A space dipped slightly, from 13.9% to 12.7%, while the vacancy rate for Class B space inches up from 16.1% to 16.9%.
A total of 324,000 square feet of multi-tenant office space was delivered, said Blanca, for a total Class A/ Class B inventory of 36,953,985 square feet. Another 2.1 million square feet of multi-tenant office space is underway and set to be delivered by late 2022.

“It’s a healthy office market,” said Blanca CEO and President Tere Blanca.

Net absorption increased overall year-over-year, by 412,191 square feet, led by Class A space offering amenities such as wellness programs, concierge services, Wi-Fi indoors and outdoors as well as tenant lounges with snacks and coffee. Tenants in legal, financial and professional services gravitate toward buildings with water views, she said.
Much of the change in the Class B market was driven by companies already in the market looking to right size their spaces — both by increasing and decreasing — and seeking new layouts, said Blanca.

Overall, tenants are also looking for buildings connected to transit and those with open floor plans and flexible conference spaces.
Of the positive absorption, 292,000 square feet or 44% came from co-working companies leasing in Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Brickell and Coral
Gables. Co-working now accounts for nearly 4% of the total office inventory in the county.

“In addition to making an impact in taking up space within existing buildings, they have actively established a presence in a large portion of new supply underway. Buildings like 830 Brickell, One Cocowalk, and CUBE Wynwd are anchored by co-working companies,” she said. “These companies are also allowing out of market companies to test the Miami market by offering flexible lease terms and move-in-ready spaces.”

Despite WeWork’s woes, several companies, including Venture X, still continue to expand their co-working footprint in South Florida.

“Although there is a large presence of coworking spaces, the majority are doing very well given Miami is an entrepreneurial community with access to a global market,” said Blanca.
New-to-market firms are driving net absorption, led by companies in finance, technology and professional services, said Blanca. Those include Starwood Capital, which is moving to Collins Avenue in Miami Beach; SoftBank, which took space in Brickell, and Icahn Enterprises, which will relocate from New York to the Milton Tower in North Miami Beach.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a favorable business environment and climate are driving new companies to relocate to Miami, said Blanca.

About 150 companies have expanded to Miami since 2017, encompassing 592,000 square feet, wrote Blanca Chief Marketing Officer Diana Pubchara over email. The majority of the companies had an office elsewhere out of state and decided to open in Miami-Dade County. Some organizations in foreign markets are establishing their U.S. headquarters in the Magic City. And about 15 new companies are touring the market and would cover another 201,000 square feet when they are expected to sign leases in the next few months.

“As more companies announce to relocate or expand into Miami, we expect other companies to follow suit given our tax friendly environment and unique access to global markets,” said Pubchara.
The entrance of new firms, said Blanca, will help “backfill vacancies in existing buildings and create positive absorption.”

The market looks bright looking over the next 25 months, said Blanca. She said, “We’ll see continued absorption and rents will continue to hold with moderate rent increases, if any.”

One Cocowalk signs co-working operator, Spaces, as anchor tenant

Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Florida’s leading independently owned commercial real estate brokerage firm, today announced its rehiring of David M. Valdez who rejoins the firm as a Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Director for the firm’s tenant advisory and brokerage services practice.

Blanca Commercial Real Estate hires new VP for tenant rep

Sharon Ellis worked for Chariff Realty and owned Palmer Property Group

By Katherine Kallergis

Sharon Ellis joined Blanca Commercial Real Estate as a vice president to focus on tenant representation.
Ellis, previously with Chariff Realty Group, will join the company’s team of four tenant advisory brokers, Blanca CEO Tere Blanca said. She will also be involved in business development to expand the firm’s tenant representation business.

Ellis, a licensed attorney, has more than 16 years of experience that includes working with a number of law firms. She helped launch Howard Ecker + Company, a Chicago-based national commercial real estate firm, in Florida, and ran her own company, Palmer Property Group, after that.
She represented Zarco Einhorn Salkowski & Brito for its $18 million,15-year lease at One Biscayne Tower in downtown Miami in 2016.
Blanca has been expanding with the recent hires of John Guitar, managing director and vice chair, and Peter Romero, who’s leading a new property management division. The brokerage has two offices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and plans to “ continue to grow with the right talent and right strategy,” Blanca said.

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.”

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