Posts By : Jennifer LeClaire,

The Heat Is On For Retail Developers In Miami

AUGUST 25, 2017

FATcity’s retail component will breathe new life into Andrews Avenue.

MIAMI—Yes, the heat is on—but maybe not for the reasons you think. While retailers in many parts of the country are struggling, Miami has a different challenge. caught up with Sabrina Stimming, senior vice president and director of leasing at CREC, to discuss this issue in light of the 2017 ICSC conference in Orlando. You can still read part one: Why South Florida Is Bucking E-Commerce Erosion Trends. What sources or forces are driving South Florida retail traffic?

Stimming: Now more than ever, retailers need a reason to drive consumers to brick and mortar stores. The Internet’s growing effect on retail and e-commerce has given consumers the ability to purchase almost anything online.

In addition, Millennial tastes are strongly influencing retail traffic in South Florida. While Millennials generally lack brand loyalty and happily engage in e-commerce, they appreciate great dining and entertainment. And, they are very mindful of health and wellness.

As a result, restaurants and fitness tenants are high on the list for landlords seeking to drive foot traffic. Hybrid entertainment and retail concepts, such as CMX Cinemas that recently opened in Brickell City Centre, Bowlero at Dolphin Mall, and Top Golf slated to open in Miami Gardens are also gaining popularity. What “hot” South Florida developments gain interest from retailers?

Stimming: New developments continue to emerge in South Florida. Recent and proposed projects that are catching the eye of retailers include: Cityplace Doral (a 300,000-square-foot lifestyle project that recently opened anchored by Fresh Market and Cinebisto); Shops at Beacon Lakes in Doral (a 430,00-square-foot power center development that CREC is joint leasing, which will be anchored by a 65,000-square-foot Top Golf); and Aventura Mall (both Turnberry’s 315,000-square-foot expansion of the mall, which will have Florida’s first Topshop and Topman, and Seritage’s 315,000-square-foot redevelopment of Sears).

The “heat” is on in prime development spots. These include Wynwood, particularly for restaurants, and Downtown Dadeland, across from the Dadeland Mall, spurred by the addition of several, award-winning and chef-driven restaurants such as Barley, Ghee’s Indian Kitchen, Pubbelly Sushi and Harry’s Pizzeria.

Top Of Mind Topics From ICSC’s RECon 2017 Conference

Top Of Mind Topics From ICSC’s RECon 2017 Conference

May 30th, 2017
By Natalie Dolce

LAS VEGAS—CREC VP Rafael Romero tells about how chef-driven restaurants are driving heavy traffic to shopping centers and why regional malls will not go quietly into the night in this EXCLUSIVE article on the hottest retail topics from this year’s big event.

CREC Vice President Rafael Romero

LAS VEGAS— recently caught up with Rafael Romero, vice president of CREC, a leading independently-owned commercial real estate firm in Florida, to hear his top five takeaways from the 2017 ICSC RECon conference in Las Vegas.

Below are Romero’s notes the “hottest” retail topics that were top of mind this year for industry pros:

Chef-driven restaurants drive heavy traffic to shopping centers

“We are seeing a new wave of innovative restaurants driving critical mass and showing landlords/brokers that the chef really matters. The concept and value of chef-driven restaurants, often by notorious and prized culinary masters, are serving as a successful formula to significantly draw demand to lifestyle centers in need of a new retail ‘palate’ and steady foot traffic,” he says. “However, although your area’s hottest chef may be a culinary genius, that doesn’t always ensure financial success. It’s important to note that when digging into a restaurant deal, there are several economic and business fundamentals to consider.”

Regional malls will not go quietly into the night

Not all malls are created equal, says Romero. “Analysts continue to blame the internet as the driving factor contributing to the decline of malls but we are still seeing ‘Class-A’ assets thrive as a result of a premier selection of retail and restaurant tenants successfully targeting the affluent communities they serve. Conversely, ‘Class-B’ and ‘C’ malls are struggling to find customers and keep tenants, as anchor department stores such as Sears and Macy’s continue to shutter,” he says. At this year’s conference, GGP, Simon, Westfield and other major mall developers and operators showcased their tenacity to keep regional malls thriving, he explains. “The sentiment is that mall owners remain heavily active to generate exciting deals, while fostering new levels of creativity to backfill impending vacancies.”

The sky is not falling

Although the recent wave of big-box store troubles continues to make headlines and there has been a slew of recent retail closures, the fact that national vacancy is at approximately 5%, according to Romero, is a strong indication that we are still experiencing a healthy retail market. “While sector readjustments will naturally be made to combat big-box retail challenges and the age of online shopping, the sky is definitely not falling,” he says. “The future looks bright for the retail community.”

Discounters are growing and absorbing square footage

Within this changing retail landscape, fueled by the closure of iconic big-box retailers, the squeeze from the internet is not the only pressure felt in the industry, says Romero. “The off-price retail sector is actively thriving. Consumers are increasingly gravitating to discounters, such as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack, that can offer many benefits not seen at department stores—discount prices, changing product mix and that thrill of hunting to find the perfect item. We cannot ‘discount’ these retailers from the conversation.”

Grocery stores will take a larger piece of the neighborhood center pie

“We are definitely seeing more demand from grocery store giants, with their desire to continue rapid expansion in centers across the country. With new big-name grocers coming to the market and other giants, such as Whole Foods and Fresh Market, further developing prepared foods and unique offerings, margins are anticipated to widen and heighten the threat to other neighboring, local supermarkets and restaurants. We will definitely see the supermarket and grocery store industry remain a hot topic, one that is closely watched in the coming quarter.”

Does Sumitomo’s $220M Grab Point To More Big Office Buys?

Does Sumitomo’s $220M Grab Point To More Big Office Buys?


MIAMI—“The fact that the Miami Tower’s price doubled in less than decade is proof that the investor appetite for existing office space is driving property values to record levels.”

The sale price on the 631,672-square-foot office asset: $220 million.

MIAMI—The Japanese corporation Sumitomo recently paid $220 million for the iconic, light-changing Miami Tower in Downtown Miami. Call it the latest sign that the investor appetite for Miami’s commercial real estate market is still intensifying.

Domestic and international investor interest continues to drive property values to record levels. For example, the Miami Tower was last sold for $105 million five years ago. The sale price doubled in about five years.

“The fact that the Miami Tower’s price doubled in less than decade is proof that the investor appetite for existing office space is driving property values to record levels,” Ezra Katz, CEO of Aztec Group, tells “As Miami’s booming condo market outbids office developers for available land, the amount of inventory is not keeping up with the rising demand for office space. We expect that office rents and sale prices will continue to rise as supply becomes more constrained and investor demand increases.”

The past year has seen a series of similar office deals, including the $140 million sale of 777 Brickell, the $112 million sale of 800 Brickell, and the $142 million sale of Espirito Santo Plaza, all trophy assets in Miami’s financial district.

Miami’s booming condo market has also impacted the ability of institutional investors and office developers to compete for land, since condo developers will outbid them every time. As a result, Miami’s office market is seeing steady rising rental rates and increased demand, but little new office inventory to meet the rising demand.

These market fundamentals point to the reasons why Sumitomo would pay top dollar for an office asset like Miami Tower, and all signs point to other office properties trading hands as deep-pocketed investors seek top-performing assets to add to their portfolios as market conditions continue to strengthen favoring landlords.

“Sumitomo’s pickup of Miami Tower is another example of an institutional buyer targeting a performing asset amidst high barriers to new office development across South Florida,” Warren Weiser, chairman of CREC, tells “Building a stand-alone office tower from the ground-up in today’s market has become cost prohibitive just as demand for Miami real estatesoars. This is putting existing buildings benefitting from quality locations and strong income in-place at a premium.”

Coral Gables Sees Mega Deal; Largest of 2016

Coral Gables Sees Mega Deal; Largest Of 2016

MIAMI—The seller more than doubled its money in 11 years.

2121 Ponce includes a five-story, 586-space parking garage and street-level retail space.

MIAMI—It’s the largest commercial real estate transaction in Coral Gables, FL so far this year. A joint venture between Greenstreet Partners just sold the 2121 Ponce office building to a member company of Zurich North America for $57.5 million. Greenstreet acquired the building for 27.1 million in 2005.

Zurich Alternative Asset Management, Zurich’s alternative investment adviser, worked with the buyer on the deal. The sale of the 164,848 square-foot office building marks the latest sign of mounting demand for high-performing South Florida office properties among institutional investors around the world. CREC and CBRE brokered the deal.

“Coral Gables has long been one of South Florida’s most desirable submarkets, and that position will only grow as office users prioritize locations that are walkable and in close proximity to public transit options,” CREC principal Steven Hurwitz, who manages leasing at the building in tandem with CREC’s Doug Okun, tells “2121 Ponce has emerged as one of the neighborhood’s best addresses over the past decade, particularly among companies in the market for space priced slightly below the rates at newer buildings nearby.”

CREC and Greenstreet acquired 2121 Ponce in 2015. Since then, the office asset has seen significant renovations of all common areas. A leasing and marketing program repositioned the building as a boutique, service-oriented option for Coral Gables office users. CREC has worked as the exclusive leasing agent and will continue managing the office asset for the new owner. The property is 95% occupied.

CREC’s Warren Weiser, Harry Blyden, and Andrew Remick co-brokered the sale of 2121 Ponce alongside CBRE’s Christian Lee, Jose Lobon, and Andrew Chilgren. Roy Rosenbaum, director of acquisitions, and Sean Bannon, managing director and head of US real estate, led the way for Zurich.

“Our experience at 2121 Ponce is an example of how a building’s value can be maximized by bringing a clear vision to life through creative leasing, construction, marketing and property management strategies,” says CREC chairman Weiser. “The investments we’ve made over the past decade have transformed the building into a core institutional-grade asset, leading to this sale. We expect similar acquisition activity in the coming months given high barriers to new development across South Florida.”

Located in the Coral Gables business district one block north of the “main and main” intersection of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Alhambra Circle, 2121 Ponce includes a five-story, 586-space parking garage and street-level retail space. Goldstein Schechter, Fox Latin America, Valley National Bank, the Consulate of Barbados and CREC call the office building home. POC restaurant is located on the building’s ground floor.

The office property’s setting in Coral Gables’ walkable downtown is also appealing to tenants as the $21 million makeover of two of the neighborhood’s main retail thoroughfares, Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue, gets underway. The submarket is home to more than 150 multinational corporations, more than a dozen luxury hotels, a free public trolley system, and boutiques and restaurants. Eighty-five new eateries opening in the last five years. Meanwhile, more than 1,500 residential units are expected to come online over the next three years.

CPAC Gets Uber Creative in CVS Deal

Always looking to reposition assets for a value-add, Continental Properties Acquisition Corporation (CPAC) just showed off its creativity again. The firm repositioned an undervalued asset in the emerging Coral Springs, FL market, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale.

CPAC converted a 1.6-acre site it acquired in 2012 for $625,000 into a 2.5-acre site that sold for $6.3 million. The company did this by assembling two individual parcels on opposite sides of a canal.

Located at 10425 West Sample Road in Coral Springs, the site is now home to a CVS store. CVS built a new 12,430-square-foot store there before CPAC sold the property to a private investor.

“We felt early on that this property would be far more marketable as an assemblage, and our belief was validated by CVS’ arrival and our aggressive sale price,” CPAC principal tells “We continue to seek similar assets that lend themselves to value creation.”


Here’s the backstory: When CPAC acquired the first portion of the assemblage in 2012, the site was home to a vacant bank branch formerly occupied by Bank of America. CPAC and their team recognized that maximizing the property’s value meant creating corner visibility and access from Coral Springs Drive and Sample Road.

With this strategy in mind, CPAC acquired neighboring land and ultimately connected the two parcels creating a 2.5-acre site that was large enough to accommodate a national pharmacy tenant. David Donnellan, Mark Drazek, and Todd Weintraub of CBRE; and Miguel Echarte and Cliff Stein from Savitar Realty were the brokers involved with the sale.

The Coral Springs market is showing strength. Bank of America Center, a 50,000-square-foot class A multi-tenant office building sitting at 1401 North University Drive in Coral Springs, FL, recently sold there.

CREC Closes Unusual Bulk Condo Deal

CREC just closed on the bulk sale of 141 condos in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Sunrise. The sale price: $17.25 million, which equates to $121,453 per unit of $137 per foot.

The Isles at Lago Mar Condominium was built in 1991 as rental apartments. The multifamily units, which are located near the intersection of North Flamingo Road and Sunrise Boulevard, were converted to condominiums in 2005.

The CREC senior vice president, Peter Mekras, represented the seller, assisted by CREC associate, Chris Bate. The asset drew 10 offers from local, international, and out of state investors. The ultimate buyer was a private investor and was not represented by a broker.

“Unlike many bulk condo sales, the 141 unit did not represent a controlling interest – 38%- in the 367 unit condominium complex,” says Mekras. “This transaction and other recent non-core apartment sales speak to private capital’s strong appetite for cash flow generated from multifamily assets. The lack of new affordable single-family housing developments will continue to lend to strong rental apartment market fundamentals in Broward County and throughout South Florida.”

Mekras has closed three South Florida multifamily transactions representing 692 units and $70 million in the last 90 days. Mekras’ closed transaction experience includes over $1.6 billion and 18,000 units in Florida.

Bulk condo deals are still getting done. Less than a month ago, Avison Young started marketing Lincoln West Gardens, a five-story 40-unit residential tower at 1250 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

“There is limited available opportunities to invest in properties on high-street corridors as iconic as Lincoln Road, especially since market rents continue to be at the apex for both retail and residential asset classes,” Crotty tells “Offers are currently being accepted, and we expect savvy investors will want to take advantage of the tremendous upside to be gained from mixed-use redevelopment within this location.”

Beyond Specialty Grocers: What’s Hot In Retail?

We’ve talked a lot about Central Florida’s retail void – and it’s bigger than some may think. We’ve also talked about what Central Florida retail submarkets are hottest – and some of them may surprise you…

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Orlando Retail and Office Spiking

With Central Florida retail and office transaction activity spiking – and more regional and national businesses and retailers expanding – it’s a good time for brokers doing business in the region. CREC is one player that’s seeing traction.

CREC just inked 11 new leases and sales assignments across Central and North Florida. The deals add over 924,000-sqft of leasable space to its office and retail portfolio. CREC vice President, Joshua Busby, and Senior Leasing Associate, Nathan Cutchin, will lead leasing and sales efforts.

“The retail market in Central Florida is extremely strong right now,” Busby tells “Numerous shopping centers are under development around Central Florida and the demand for quality space is driving rents to levels that we have not seen in years. Retail Sales are strong and tenants are now renewing early and exercising options, rather than terminating their lease or opting to miss the option notice to renegotiate the lease.”

CREC’s new retail and office assignments include: Magic Place is a retail and residential mega center with infill retail space, outparcels and seven high-rise condos and time share residences on US Highway 192 in Kissimmee, FL; DuPont Station, which spans 87,099-sqft with three fully built-out restaurant spaces and a 19,982-sqft former grocer space available for lease in Jacksonville.

CREC is also leasing World golf Village in St. Augustine, FL; the 92,180-sqft Steeplechase Plaza in Ocala, FL; the 73,619-sqft shopping complex Homosassa Plaza in Homosassa, FL; Semoran Plaza and Colonial Shoppes in Orlando; and Malabar Commons in Palm Bay, FL; Heritage Plaza, a 40,000-sqft Class A office building in Lakeland, FL; and Oakridge Office Park in Orlando.

Built in 2011, Former Rec Warehouse for sale. The 14,400-sqft, bank-owned warehouse sits on 1.61 acres at 8134 North US Hwy 98 in Lakeland, FL. The list price is $694,000. The warehouse is one mile from Northside Village, which is poised to become the premier multi-use development on Lakeland’s north side.

Job growth in Orlando will be healthy this year as 44,000 positions are created, expanding headcounts by 3.9%, according to Marcus & Millichap. In 2014, employment grew 4.5%. New jobs will be led by the leisure and hospitality sector.

Retail vacancy will fall 60 basis points to 6.2% in 2015, the firm predicted, despite the influx of new construction as retail spending increases throughout the metro. This will advance last year’s 60-basis-point drop.

CPAC nearly triples investment on retail asset

Are there still value-added opportunities in Miami retail? Underperforming assets aren’t exactly low hanging fruit but the firms willing to go out on a limb are finding commercial real estate profits. Miami-based private firm Continental Properties Acquisition Corporation (CPAC)…

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