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 and Danet Linares 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.”

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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 and Danet Linares 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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Women of Influence 2017

July/August 2017

 

 

Offices Set to Open Before Brightline Trains Reach Miami

By Carla Vianna
July 13, 2017

The first phase of All Aboard Florida’s MiamiCentral project — a stand-alone 96,000-square-foot office tower adjacent to the downtown Miami transit hub — is on track to open this summer despite a delay in train service.

MiamiCentral, which will serve as Brightline’s Miami train station, is an 11-acre development composed of two office towers, retail space, a food hall and 800 apartments.

The privately funded passenger rail system will connect Miami and West Palm Beach via Fort Lauderdale and eventually connect all three cities to Orlando. A fall launch is expected.

The Two and Three MiamiCentraloffice towers rising at the transit center are 60 percent leased, said Tere Blanca, president and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate Inc. The nearly 300,000 square feet of Class A space will be the first to deliver in Miami since the recession.

Three MiamiCentral, which is west of the station, is scheduled to open at the end of summer, bringing about 100,000 square feet of office product to downtown Miami, Blanca said. She said Brightline has signed for about 18,000 square feet at the office tower.

Two MiamiCentral, which is linked to the station, is set to open in the fall. The 10-story, 190,000-square-foot building has secured a handful of big-name tenants, including its two anchors, Ernst & Young, and shared office provider Regus.

Media company Cisneros has leased the top two floors of the office tower, and Moss & Associates will open an office on the building’s seventh floor. Venevision International Enterprises, Fortress Investment Group and All Aboard Florida’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries, are also moving into the building.

“We have numerous full-floor users fully engaged in negotiations,” Blanca said. “One of those will close very soon.”

She expects to make a tenant announcement within the next month. Rental rates for Two MiamiCentral are about $33 to $35 per square foot triple-net and $29 per square foot at the freestanding tower. The Brightline train service catalyzed ambitious transit-oriented development in the three cities it will connect.

Two 60,000-square-foot stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are nearing completion, while construction on the more complex Miami station, which includes 3 million square feet of development, is steadily progressing.

Florida East Coast Industries will deliver two apartment towers at the downtown Miami station in 2019. The residential units will be under the company’s newly launched Park-Line brand, FECI announced Thursday. FECI is also planning a 290-unit tower in downtown West Palm to be completed next year.

The company secured $130 million in EB-5 financing for its MiamiCentral station, according to a June 30 mortgage document. The loan came via CanAm Enterprises LLC’s Florida regional center.

CanAm’s website lists a total loan value of $350 million from 700 EB-5 investors for All Aboard Florida.

No one knows when the first train will roll or how much a ticket will cost. Introductory service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach was originally scheduled to begin this month followed by service to Miami in August.

Brightline said a grand opening is expected this fall.

“Brightline is working diligently to complete construction of its stations and infrastructure, test its amazing train sets and add hundreds of new employees,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to providing our guests with an exceptional travel experience in late summer to early fall. Details on the timing of our service launch will be provided as we progress.”

The Orlando link has been furthered delayed due to litigation.

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Blanca Serves as Business Liaison on Access to Justice

By Carla Vianna
June 30, 2017

 

 

For the next three years Tere Blanca will lead discussions with Florida’s business community on how to make the justice system more accessible for low- to moderate-income residents struggling with legal burdens.

The president and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate in Miami has been appointed to the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, which focuses on addressing the civil legal needs of disadvantaged Floridians. She will also serve on the Council of Business Partners, advising the 21-member commission from a business perspective.

Blanca will serve as liaison between the commission and the council, which includes other business executives from industries across Florida.

“It’s an important cause that can have a major impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” she said.

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga created the commission in 2014 to find ways to reduce inefficiencies and costs associated with civil litigation. He believes including business leaders in the conversation is key.

The business council will work closely with Florida Bar past president and commission member Gregory Coleman. The Critton Luttier Coleman partner in West Palm Beach also serves as chairman of the executive committee.

Blanca, who previously served on Miami-Dade County’s Beacon Council, said her real estate company has a long history of giving back to the South Florida community. In her new role as liaison between the two groups, Blanca will identify innovative ways for businesses to promote better access to justice, and she’ll work alongside attorneys on the commission to help bridge that gap.

“Employers, too, have a stake in this,” Labarga said in a news release. “Employees who have challenges accessing justice have higher absenteeism and reduced productivity. It is in all our interests to address access to justice.”

Members of the business council include representatives from Universal Parks & Resorts, life insurance company FBMC Benefits Management Inc., food distributor Cheney Brothers Inc. and First Southern Bank.

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Blanca Commercial Real Estate Hires Executive Vice President

May 16, 2016
Miami–With an increasing demand for investment sales services, Blanca (BCRE) responds with the announcement of noted real estate executive Cary Cohen, as he joins the firm as executive vice president. Cohen will be tasked to oversee the continued expansion of the firm’s investment sales
practice group.

Cohen brings 15 years of experience, leading the disposition of more than 10 million square feet of property throughout his career. Prior to joining Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Cohen led the Florida operations for the Asset Solutions Group of Flagler Real Estate Services, where his main focus was the disposition of commercial real estate.

The key hire comes as a result of high commercial real estate investment activity in Miami and South Florida, especially from out-of- state investors. New York firms have spent approximately $586 million in one square mile of downtown Miami in the past two years, about 56 percent of the total investment recorded in this area. BCRE is representing one of the investors, the New York private equity firm Brickman, after its recent acquisition of the downtown landmark Courthouse Tower.

“As we continue to meet increasing demand for first-class client service and deep market intelligence across a range of commercial real estate services as the sector evolves in Miami and South Florida, we are very pleased to welcome Cary, a respected thought leader and well-known industry heavyweight, to the team,” said Tere Blanca, president, CEO & founder of Blanca Commercial Real Estate.

Cohen takes an active role in key organizations, being a founding member of the Young Professionals benefiting Easter Seals, a graduate of the 2013 Leadership Miami class, and a member of the steering committee for P.A.T.C.H.E.S., a charity benefitting children with complex medical issues, and also serving the Salvation Army and Miami Rescue Mission. Cohen holds a BA Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University.

“With his experience and connections, we are confident that our investment sales practice group will continue to thrive and grow, offering clients the unsurpassed service and data-driven strategic direction on which we’ve built our reputation,” added Tere Blanca.

Established in 2009, Blanca Commercial Real Estate is a leading independently owned commercial real estate brokerage firm in South Florida,providing brokerage and advisory services to owners and users of commercial real estate. Practice areas include landlord representation, tenant representation, build-to- suit advisory services, and land/investment property acquisition and disposition.

INSTITUTIONALS REMAIN BULLISH ON DOWNTOWN MIAMI OFFICE

May 27, 2016
As Sumitomo shells out $220M for Miami Tower and JPMorgan stakes a for-sale sign on Southeast Financial Center in a transaction that could exceed $500M, some Miami office experts say it’s still a good time to be an institutional investor here.

Even with sub-5% cap rates on some transactions, “there’s a very good demand for Class-A office buildings in Central and Downtown Miami,” says Aztec Group CEO Ezra Katz (on right with Jason Katz), a Miami-area investor who has placed bets with other sponsors all over the Southeast. “I believe that the Miami Downtown and Brickell market will continue to improve and will get higher rents in the next several years,” he tells us.

The area’s office fundamentals seem to bear that out. With just over an 11% vacancy rate, Downtown Miami’s average rents are clocking more than $40/SF, fueled by Brickell’s office demand—far above the rest of Miami’s office submarkets. Still, there’s some stress: With 305k SF delivered so far this year and another 1M SF underway—mainly in Brickell City Centre—absorption last quarter took a beating by 100k SF, according to Colliers International. “A trend of signed leases in the first quarter of 2016 have been notably smaller in size and the pace of total office leasing activity slowed, thus significantly reducing absorption levels,” Colliers analysts state in a report. Deals of note so far include Sitel’s 21k SF deal at Brickell World Plaza and Coty’s 12k SF renewal at Brickell Office Plaza, and Akerman’s big move-in to 111k SF at Three Brickell City Centre in January.

That hasn’t deterred investors, though. NY-based Brickman paid $27.5M for Courthouse Tower in Downtown Miami; and Triarch Capital Group slapped down $74M for Doral Costa office park from TA Realty, according to Colliers.Ezra says even the addition of 1M SF to Miami’s office market will barely move the needle on total supply in the minds of institutional investors. “I think that there is clearly a lack of new office space,” he says.

Blanca Commercial Real Estate head Tere Blanca says Brickell is the real winner here, netting 300k SF of the 470k SF of deals this year so far. And that’s indicative of Miami’s urbanization, where companies are flocking to the urban core to be closer to a young talent pool. “You cannot define Miami by its history,” Tere says. “What’s happened here in the last five years is unprecedented. We have doubled the population in the urban core in less than a decade.”

If there’s one chink in the office occupancy armor, it’s Downtown Miami (taking out Brickell), which still lags with 19% office vacancy, according to Blanca Commercial Real Estate. But that may be a short-lived problem. As space continues to tighten and rents jump even higher in Brickell—for instance, Tere tells us 1450 Brickell is hitting new lease highs of $58 to $63/SF—that should push some of the activity northward to Downtown.

Brickell and Downtown will be featured topics of conversation 7:30am, June 23 at our Evolution of Brickell & Downtown Miami event at 90 SW 8th St with an all-star panel that includes 13th Floor Investments’ Arnaud Karsenti (here), Royal Palm Cos CEO Dan Kodsi, Blanca Commercial Real Estate’s Danet Linares, One Real Estate Investment’s Jeronimo Hirschfeld and Miami DDA’s
Alyson Robertson. Sign up here.

 

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How schools, trains and concerts are building up Miami’s neighborhoods

On Thursday, school’s out for summer at the Downtown Doral Charter Elementary, and its report card is packed with A’s. In only its second year of operation, the school is already topping county-wide honor rolls — and helping to fuel Doral’s thriving real estate market.

In the post-recession building boom, developers promoted sweeping waterfront views and luxury bonuses like car elevators, bowling alleys, plunge pools and private chefs to wealthy buyers. But in recent months, while sales in the luxury condo market have stalled amid a slowdown in Latin America, developers are starting to reap the benefits from master plans that incorporate long-term, community-building amenities.

The Downtown Doral Charter Elementary School is one gamble that has paid off. The Florida Department of Education ranked the school tops among Miami-Dade elementaries for total achievement in English and math in 2015- 2016. In November, principal Jeanette Acevedo-Isenberg won the Council for Educational Change’s annual Leonard Miller Principal Leadership Award —the first time a charter school won the honor.

The school is also proving to be a formidable draw for homebuyers. While any child who lives in Miami can apply to attend, residents of the new Downtown Doral development are given preference. According to a report by Gridics.com, Doral had 167 sale closings in the first quarter of 2017 — the fifth-highest of any neighborhood in Miami-Dade County.

Codina Partners CEO Ana Codina Barlick, who has overseen the metamorphosis of Downtown Doral from drab offices into a thriving work/live/play community, said an elementary school offering top-notch education was always a critical part of the master plan. A high school is scheduled to break ground in 2018.

“Our business is real estate, not education,” Codina said. “We don’t make a penny off the school. We just wanted it to be great, because the better it is, the more people would want to live in this community.”

In addition to that massive, 120-acre development, which cost more than $1 billion, Codina Partners also gave Doral a new city hall and the three-acre Downtown Doral park. But the elementary school takes developer-led community facilities to a new level.

“GENTRIFICATION IS THE GENESIS OF PEOPLE TRYING TO MAKE MONEY. NO ONE THINKS DEVELOPERS ARE DOING THESE THINGS OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF THEIR HEARTS.”

Doug Jones, managing partner of JAG Insurance Group

The Downtown Doral Charter Elementary School is the first charter school built in a public-private partnership between the Miami-Dade School Board and a developer. Codina Partners donated the $3.5 million plot of land where the school sits. The school is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation with its own board. That board leased the land back from the county school board and issued $20 million in bonds to construct the building.

The nonprofit board pays the Miami-Dade School Board a fee to manage the Doral operation. But the nonprofit board hires the principal and sets the direction of the school. Reflecting Doral’s high percentage of Hispanic residents, 60 percent of all classes are taught in English; the other 40 percent are in either Spanish or Portuguese. Teachers at the school work under one- year contracts.

“It wasn’t just about providing a school,” Codina said. “That’s really easy. You can call a charter school company and they will put a school here and you don’t have to think about it. We wanted to go beyond that.”

The investment is working. An analysis of U.S. census data by Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center reveals Doral is the fastest-growing big city in Florida and the 11th fastest in the U.S., with 58,000 residents in 2016 — a 26.1 percent increase since 2016. The median price of homes currently listed in Doral is $398,000; the median rent is $2,300. The median income of Doral households was $72,933 in 2015 — almost 60 percent higher than the Miami-Dade County median of $43,129.

“One of the big things that drives property values up is having good education nearby,” Codina said. “We wanted to sell something more than walls, a roof, a floor and some nice appliances. We offer a much bigger value to people by telling them if you move here, you have a school for your kids through high school.”

Quality-of- life perks

Doral isn’t alone in focusing on education: The Related Urban Development Group is currently negotiating with the Miami-Dade School Board to include a secondary school at its Gallery at West Brickell affordable and workforce housing project at 201 SW 10th St. Other developers are pinpointing facilities most important to their own potential buyers, including transit stations, places of worship, cultural events and infrastructure designed to serve full- time Miami residents and improve their quality of life.

“Real estate has started to transition away from just brick-and- mortar investment and more into creating a sense of place and being part of the fabric of their community,” said Steven Hurwitz, a partner at the Florida real estate firm CREC.

“It’s not a purely altruistic move, but developers who have done it successfully are seeing it equates to a more successful investment overall,” Hurwitz said. “Miami neighborhoods are starting to develop individual identities. The projects being presented in them are often playing a role in servicing that demographic and delivering more of an experience.”

Some of those projects are relatively small in scale and cater to a niche demographic. But their impact on their respective communities can be significant.

As part of its 17-floor, 61-unit luxury condo project Aurora, at 17550 Collins Ave., developer Verzasca Group is donating a 2,000 square-foot mikvah — a bath used by Jewish men and women for ritual immersion — to the Chabad

Lubavitch of Sunny Isles Beach. The mikvah, to be delivered upon completion of the building, will have a separate entrance and will be available for use by anyone in the community, not just residents of the tower.

“As a fairly new developer in town, we started to do community outreach and meet with the neighbors to understand who lives in the area,” said Verzasca managing director Tim Lobanov. “We knew we would need to get approval from the city commissioners for this project. We met with Rabbi Yisrael Baron of the community center across the street and he told us about the need. Among the Jewish people in the area, we are already known as the building that’s going to have a mikvah in it.”

On Miami’s Upper East Side, Global City Development and the Midtown Group are teaming up on a mixed-use development named Legions West that would initially bring 237 rental apartments and a new 15,000 square-foot American Legion facility overlooking Biscayne Bay at 6445 NE Seventh Ave. in Miami.

“We’re trying to update what the American Legion has been in the past — a place for older veterans to come have a drink and talk — and attract younger veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq who have young families and want to participate in activities that are more relevant for them,” said Brian Pearl, principal and co-founder of Global City Development. “We’ve organized our whole business around socially impactful real estate development. There’s a benefit to having more integrated communities that will pay off in the long run.”

Pearl said that even though his company won’t make any money from the American Legion facility, doing something positive for the community helps people feel more comfortable with new development.

Global’s desire to incorporate a swath of Legion Memorial Park into its eventual 1.2 million square-foot complex has already met with resistance. That kind of controversy is bound to arise when locals don’t entirely agree with the developer’s vision.

“Businessmen will always be businessmen,” said Doug Jones, managing partner of JAG Insurance Group. “Gentrification is the genesis of people trying to make money. No one thinks developers are doing these things out of the goodness of their hearts. But at the end of the day, you can’t stop a lot of this from happening, so it becomes about what you can get out of it. A lot of developers end up making positive changes in communities by doing what they have to do in order to get their deals done.”

Changing the city

Other developers are taking a big-picture approach with amenities needed to help Miami fulfill its destiny as a major metropolis — with all the accompanying infrastructure that implies. In traffic-challenged Miami-Dade, nearly a dozen mixed-use residential projects are planned along U.S. 1 and in Hialeah, close to Metrorail. The trend was spurred by Brickell City Centre, Swire Properties’ mammoth 5.4 million square-foot mixed-use complex that opened in 2016.

When Swire announced its ambitious plan in 2011, Miami was still in the grip of the Great Recession. Brickell was a ghost town of unlit condos. Metrorail and Metromover’s grungy stations reflected county funding shortages. The idea of an upscale city-within- a-city that would lure shoppers, diners, residents and office workers arriving by public transit seemed like a pipe dream.

But long before the designer shops, condos, offices and eateries opened, developer Swire Properties spent $10 million refurbishing the Eighth Street Metromover Station, with a design by Arquitectonica, that would fit functionally and aesthetically into the project’s finished structure. As part of the station’s redesign, Swire is under contract to maintain the facility until 2025, with an option to renew the agreement every 10 years after that, up to 99 years.

“All our mixed-use developments in Hong Kong and China sit on top of major transport nodes,” said Kieran Bowers, president of Swire Properties. “In Miami, there’s only the Metrorail and Metromover to choose from. But we’ll always integrate public transport into the project.”

Swire and Arquitectonica paid special heed to the station’s design and its role in the overall plan. “It would have been easy for us to have made changes but left a municipal style of architecture design. But we wanted you to feel a difference when you arrive at Brickell Centre,” Bowers said. Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) is putting the transit concept on steroids.The $3 billion, 235-mile Brightline inter-city express train service will be the first to connect South Florida in early fall via a rail system. Passengers will be able to travel from Miami to Fort Lauderdale in less that 30 minutes at a speed of up to 79 miles per hour. The train will reach up to 125 miles per hour on the eventual extension connecting West Palm Beach to Orlando.

All aboard

The project, a privately owned venture by FECI subsidiary Brightline, is expected to alleviate South Florida traffic woes, removing an estimated three million cars from clogged highways such as I-95 and U.S. 1. One key element: a vertical neighborhood created around the rail’s Miami hub.

In downtown, FECI is developing the 11-acre MiamiCentral on Northwest First Avenue between Northwest Third and Eighth streets. The station will connect to Metrorail, Metromover and the Tri-rail and feature three buildings offering 800 rental apartments, nearly 200,000 square feet of retail space, and 300,000 square feet of Class-A office space.

Tere Blanca, founder and CEO of Blanca Real Estate, which is handling commercial leasing, says MiamiCentral will offer grocery stores, food and beverage options at all price ranges, a fitness center, an elevated jogging track, and loads of shopping. Service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is to begin in July, with Miami service launching this fall.

“The Brightline group is moving their offices there this summer,” Blanca said. “Several leases are already underway, and the office building is delivering at the end of June and should be leased out before the end of the year. It’s an exciting project that is driving tremendous investment around it.”

$74 million Amount being spent on improving city infrastructure at Miami Worldcenter in downtown Miami

One of the biggest neighboring investments: The massive Miami Worldcenter, the 27-acre mixed-use project spanning 10 city blocks adjacent to the MiamiCentral station. The second-largest in development in the U.S. after Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, Miami Worldcenter spans 10 city blocks and will offer a combination of retail, residential, hotel, office and expo spaces. The first phase of the project is due in 2019.

As part of the $2 billion Miami Worldcenter project, developers issued $74 million worth of private bonds to fund installation and improvement of sewage and water lines, drainage, cable and Internet fibers and new sidewalks in the formerly blighted area.

“People look at Miami Worldcenter as a project, but it’s really not: It’s a truly mixed-use city-within- a-city,” said Nitin Motwani, managing principal of Miami Worldcenter Associates, a joint venture between the Falcone Group and Centurion Partners. “We’re hoping this will have the kind of impact on downtown Miami that Rockefeller Center had on Manhattan: change the way that area operates. All the infrastructure work that the public will enjoy is not the sexy stuff that everyone likes to talk about. But it’s the stuff that makes possible all the buildings you see on Brickell.”

Building community

Other developers are investing in less tangible, but still crucial, amenities. Nir Shoshani, who runs NR Investments with his partner Ron Gottesmann, has been spearheading the cultural scene over the past three years in the self- branded Arts + Entertainment district near the Omni in downtown Miami.

The developers have drawn a young demographic to the formerly desolate neighborhood via pumped-up programming: free rooftop concerts featuring folk and acoustic acts from around the U.S.; outdoor movie screenings hosted by the Miami Film Festival, street markets and art shows.

Shoshani estimates he has invested more than $1.5 million on all the area’s events thus far, and his gamble may be about to pay off. The 37-story Canvas Condo tower, at 1630 NE First Ave., is scheduled to be completed in early 2018, with its bohemian-styled units ranging in size from 620-1,110 square feet and selling for $300,000-$580,000.

“Risk is always a factor in business, especially in real estate,” Shoshani said. “Our idea was to really push forward with an urban village concept. If people had thought what we’ve been doing was a promotional stunt by a developer, it would have never gotten off the ground. This wasn’t a renaissance: It’s not like there was something going on in this neighborhood 50 years ago.”

Other developments feature amenities that dig even deeper into their communities, providing job opportunities, healthcare, museums and youth centers.

A $307 million redevelopment of Liberty Square, Miami-Dade County’s biggest and oldest housing project, broke ground in May. When completed by 2020, developer Related Urban Development will deliver 1,400 condos, townhouse and apartments — all integrated with free wifi — as well as a youth center provided by the Mourning Family Foundation, a YMCA-run family center and daycare, a museum celebrating the area’s history, a medical center and 65,000 square feet of retail anchored by a national grocery chain and supplanted by locally owned businesses.

To the north, slow but steady progress continues on SoLe Mia, a 183-acre development at 15045 Biscayne Blvd. in North Miami. The project — a joint venture between Richard LeFrak and Turnberry Associates co-chairs Jeffrey Soffer and Jackie Soffer — will occupy the largest piece of underutilized land east of Biscayne Boulevard in the county. SoLe Mia will be comprised of 4,390 residences, 1.4 million square feet of retail space, dining and entertainment and two swimmable 10-acre lagoons.

According to the developer, 29 percent of the 14,000 short- and long-term jobs created by the project have been filled by North Miami residents — nearly three times the 10 percent mandated by the county.

Old-school amenities still popular

The growth of practical, neighborhood-building amenities doesn’t mean traditional standbys such as clubhouses and swimming pools are going away. Carlos Gonzalez, division president of Lennar Homes, Florida’s largest housing developer, said variations on tried-and- true amenities are still an effective way to sell new houses.

“The No. 1 competitor for all new home developers is the resale market,” he said. “There are more resale transactions than new home transactions. So how do you set yourself apart other than having new product built to the latest codes? We do home automation and energy saving. But that isn’t enough. You have to provide things such as attractive clubhouses with a kids’ water park, or a gym for grown-ups with an adjacent playroom for your kids while you work out. In South Florida, we’re tailored toward outdoor living, so we have exterior kitchens and fire pits.”

But as Miami’s population density increases and familiar neighborhoods develop more nooks and crannies, developers will continue to gamble on long-term community-building endeavors — a sign of faith in the city’s continued growth.

“When we first started this, people thought we were crazy,” Miami Worldcenter’s Motwani said. “During the recession, they thought we were stupid. Today they say we’re lucky. We are, because a lot of what we counted on has come to fruition. But this kind of transformative project just takes a little longer. It’s a great opportunity to do something long-lasting and more meaningful than just coming in, putting up another building and leaving.”