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Events company moves to top floor of South Beach office building

Events company moves to top floor of South Beach office building

INDUSTRIES & TAGS. Commercial Real Estate

By Emon Reiser – Digital Producer South Florida Business Journal 

GDS Publishing, an international events and technology services company, has relocated to the top floor of a 90,000-square-foot office building in Miami Beach.

The Bristol, United Kingdom-based company moved its South Florida branch to 10,000 square feet at 1688 Meridian Avenue. The firm will occupy the entire penthouse floor of the office space with more than 40 employees. Cushman & Wakefield Managing Director Gordon Messinger represented the property owner in lease negotiations and CREC’s Steven Hurwitz represented the tenant.

1688 Meridian Avenue is a 90,000-square-foot office building in Miami Beach.
PHOTO COURTESY CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD

GDS relocated from 1691 Michigan Ave.

The company’s fellow tenants now include Regus, a major flexible workspace company; international modeling agency Next Model Management and international advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Worldwide.

Ivy Realty acquired 1688 Meridian Ave. and 1674 Meridian Ave. in July 2016. The office buildings total 120,000 square feet. The Connecticut-based company is planning improvements for both buildings including renovations to the lobbies, bathrooms and other common areas.

Long slog of Miracle Mile revamp alters business scene

WEEK OF THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 2017

A Singular Voice in an Evolving City.


COMMERCIAL & OFFICE SPACE


Long slog of Miracle Mile revamp alters business scene

By Catherine Lackner

The renovation of Miracle Mile and Gerald Avenue has been a long slog and, with completion set for January, it’s far from over. Stakeholders on the streets have experienced the construction differently.

“We’ve been very fortunate, but we are sensitive to the fact that others have had serious difficulties,” said Barbara Stein, executive producing director of the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile.

“We’ve become somewhat of a destination, and people seem to be able to get to the theater on time,” she said. “People have a choice to see or not see the show, and we’ve had some good series.”

Parking is a challenge, she said, “but parking is always a challenge, and not just in Coral Gables, but everywhere. We’re hoping the return of valet service will help.”

On balance, Ms. Stein called the renovation “a little bit of pain for some gain.

“These are going to be amazing improvements, and we hope that the people we bring in will help generate opportunities for everyone,” she said. “We’re all working together for the prosperity of the community.”

An unintended consequence of the renovation forced Flowers & Services, formerly of 366 Miracle Mile, to leave the city.

“Due to the construction, the owner of our former location raised the rent from $4,000 to $11,000,” said Maria Budow, co-owner of the business. “We moved. Once the renovation is done, a restaurant can come in there and put tables on the sidewalks, which we couldn’t do.”

Flowers & Services moved to 6600 Coral Way. “It’s really nice and there’s plenty of parking,” Ms. Budow said. “We’re happy.”

Rent increases may be part of a trend, said Rafael Romero, Vice President of CREC, via email.

“While some retailers may not survive these challenging times, the long-term gains will deliver enhanced tenants and increased market vitality. With less than a 3% retail vacancy rate in Miami today, any vacancies will be absorbed quickly in this area.

“We expect landlords of existing retail buildings to upgrade infrastructure to meet the vision of the new streetscape, playing a significant role in the new retail aesthetic,” said Mr. Romero, whose office at 2121 Ponce de Leon Blvd. is two blocks from Giralda Avenue and four blocks from Miracle Mile. “Coral Gables will also need to work closely with the surrounding landlords to deliver a destination with a synergetic tenant mix.”

“This is a defining moment for downtown Coral Gables,” said Christopher Brown, co-developer of Giralda Place, a nine-story, 33-unit condominium project at 2222 Ponce de Leon Blvd., which will have 13,390 square feet of ground-floor retail and about 100,000 square feet of office space.

“We’re already seeing growing interest in Giralda Place due to the streetscape project taking shape across the street. While tenants have seen a dry sales period, there is real buzz surrounding the streetscape’s completion and resulting increase in foot traffic,” he said via email.

“The improvements will greatly benefit current retail tenants by helping to boost lost revenue from the heavy construction and providing them with a competitive advantage, as there are no other thoroughfares in the vicinity that share the same attributes.”

“We invite people to come experience the progress of the Miracle Mile streetscape as you stroll the south side of the 100 and 200 blocks of Miracle Mile [which house] the Miracle Theatre, Barnes & Noble and dozens of quality shops and eateries,” said Javier Betancourt, Coral Gables economic development director, via email.

“Hand-cut stone pavers – inspired by our beautiful South Florida skies – are being meticulously installed on ultra-wide sidewalks to create a captivating pedestrian experience for locals and visitors alike,” he said. “The first phase of this multimillion-dollar renaissance has successfully addressed long-standing drainage issues while installing high speed fiber, new shade trees, and specialty lighting. The drainage work is done and the magic is now taking shape.”

The first phase of the Giralda Plaza streetscape is taking shape, as well, he said. “To celebrate,

‘Parking is always a challenge, and not just in Coral Gables, but everywhere. We’re hoping the return of the valet service will help.’

Barbara Stein


‘While some retailers may not survive these challenging time, the long-term gains will deliver enhanced tenants and increased market vitality.’

Rafael Romero


many of the restaurants along ‘restaurant row,’ (the 100 block of Giralda Avenue) will operate impromptu outdoor cafes in the plaza each Saturday from breakfast to midnight.

“Entitled Giralda Alfresco, these Saturday experiences will allow us to get a taste of what’s to come, because it’s just too pretty now to wait until summer, when it’s officially complete,” Mr. Betancourt said.

The project – which was discussed for years before the first inch of pavement was broken – will create streets that are more walkable, vibrant and attractive, he said. Giralda Plaza is scheduled for completion by early summer, and seven of Miracle Mile’s eight blocks are scheduled for completion by November of this year (in time for the holiday season), with the last block slated for completion by January 2018.

“The city is sensitive to the hardships faced by merchants during this period of construction,” he said. Coral Gables has taken steps to support the merchants, including:

‘While tenants have seen a dry sales period, there is a real buzz surrounding the streetscape’s completion and resulting increase in foot traffic.’

Christopher Brown


‘The first phase of this multimillion-dollar renaissance has successfully addressed long-standing drainage issues while installing high speed fiber.’

Javier Betancourt


  • Working with the contractor to accelerate and expedite the work.
  • Attracting people to downtown through a variety of free events, such as Wellness Wednesdays, Jazz in the Gables, Movies on the Mile and Giralda Al Fresco.
  • Providing discounted or complementary parking for customers, including free parking vouchers and free valet vouchers for Giralda Avenue merchants.
  • Conducting a robust marketing and advertising campaign in publications and social media.
  • Installing more than 180 business continuity parking and wayfinding signs.
  • Waiving city permit fees and expediting permitting for facade improvements.
  • Providing flexibility with respect to certain code enforcement regulations.
  • Enhancing privately owned paseos at the city’s expense.
  • Providing rent abatement for retail tenants in city-owned properties.
CREC Tapped to Manage, Lease Miami Office Building

April 5th, 2017

CREC has been selected as the exclusive leasing agent and will be managing the office asset for Park Centre Boulevard in Miami Gardens.

The ‘Class A’ office building was acquired for $8.5 million in February by 1111 PCB Holdings, LLC.

Located at 1111 Park Centre Boulevard, the property offers 56,634 square feet of office space amidst four stories. The building is currently 92-percent occupied, with 5,162 square feet of rentable space available. CREC Senior Leasing Associates Katie Fernandez-Espinosa and Teri Jarp will oversee leasing.

“We are excited to be collaborating with the new ownership team for Park Centre Boulevard to bring this asset to full occupancy,” said CREC Co-founder and President Carol Brooks. “The property is currently home to a strong mix of professional tenants, including law offices, medical companies and government agencies, seeking convenient workspaces in proximity to major thoroughfares. The location, coupled with the building’s on-site amenities, will serve as a strong draw for our network.”

Park Centre is  situated west of the Golden Glades Interchange.

CREC Negotiates 88,000 SF Lease Renewal

CREC has completed a long-term, 88,000-square-foot lease renewal with Bayview Asset Management in Shops at Merrick Park Offices in Coral Gables.

The lease renewal will maintain the national mortgage investment firm’s corporate headquarters at 4425 Ponce De Leon Boulevard. Bayview Asset Management has occupied the space since the office building was delivered to the market in 2002.

CREC Partner Steven Hurwitz and Senior Vice President Douglas Okun represented GGP, owner and operator of Shops at Merrick Park Offices, while JLL Managing Director Matthew W. Cheezem represented the tenant, Bayview Asset Management.

“We were able to achieve terms for GGP to accommodate the tenant’s needs, which included ample on-site parking and facility improvements geared toward upgrading the tenant’s floors,” said Hurwitz. “We are pleased that Bayview Asset Management will remain in the building. This is a strong statement for both the project and the thriving Coral Gables submarket.”

Shops at Merrick Park Office is a Class A, five-story office building comprised of 126,019 square feet. The tower is situated immediately adjacent to the area’s high-end retail and dining destination, Shops at Merrick Park, which features anchor tenants Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. It enjoys exposure to U.S. 1 and is within walking distance to Metrorail and the Coral Gables Trolley Station.

CREC Arranges $27.4 Million Sale of Turtle Crossing in Metro Fort Lauderdale

Coral Springs, Fla. — CREC has arranged the $27.4 million sale of Turtle Crossing, a 99,174-square-foot shopping center located roughly 20 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale in Coral Springs.

The property is shadow-anchored by a 174,000-square-foot Super Target, and home to tenants including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Panda Express, AutoZone, Panera Bread, Buffalo Wild Wings, Vision Works and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Warren Weiser and Harry Blyden of CREC represented the seller, Turtle Run Venture LLC, in the transaction. There was no broker representation for the buyer, Turtle Crossing Coral Springs LLC, a joint venture between Ross Realty Investments and SunCap Real Estate Investments.

 

 

Pollo Tropical spreads its wings to new HQ near Miami airport

Pollo Tropical spreads its wings to new HQ near Miami airport

Fast-casual chicken restaurant group reduced its footprint from 17,000 sf to 10,000 sf
March 03, 2017 12:45PM
By Katherine Kallergis

Pollo Tropical office (Credit: Gigi Alvarez) Inset: CREC’s Carol Brooks and Glenn Rozansky, vice president of real estate for Pollo Tropical

After nearly 20 years spent in fragmented office space in Dadeland and a test kitchen in Doral, Pollo Tropical has moved into a newly built-out space near Miami International Airport. 

Pollo Tropical, a subsidiary of Fiesta Restaurant Group, is leasing a 10,000-square-foot building at 7255 Corporate Center Drive, Carol Brooks told The Real Deal. Brooks, president and co-founder of CREC, represented Pollo Tropical in the lease along with senior leasing associate Katie Fernandez-Espinosa. Diana Parker, CBRE senior vice president, represented the Landing at MIA.

The new regional headquarters for Pollo Tropical includes an open floor plan of offices and conference space surrounding a roughly 1,100-square-foot test kitchen. The company went from leasing about 17,000 square feet on noncontiguous floors in an older building in the Dadeland area, plus a test kitchen in Doral, to a smaller and centralized space.

“They had grown over decades into a space that was no longer efficient and it didn’t accommodate their culture. They wanted to consolidate offices, their training facility and test kitchen under one roof with ease of access, abundant onsite parking and onsite amenities,” Brooks told TRD. “Those requirements – the parking and test kitchen – were inherently limited and that pushed us geographically.”

The building is within the Landing at MIA office park, which recently underwent a $17 million renovation, according to a press release. Records show SPUS7 Miami ACC Land LP owns the 50-acre complex. The limited partnership, which is controlled by CBRE Global Investors principal Claudia Walraven, paid $129.25 million for the office community in 2014.

Brooks declined to provide terms of the lease, including rents, but said that in general rents are lower in the Dadeland submarket, and that it’s difficult to compare rent within the airport submarket because of the kitchen and training facilities.

The popular fast-casual chicken restaurant chain added skylights to the building as part of the extensive build-out. Gigi Alvarez of G. Alvarez Studio designed the new headquarters.

“It’s so cool. We really talked a lot about culture; food is what they do, so the kitchen now is exposed to the central work area. Everybody has a view,” she said.

CREC Stays Independent as Consolidation Rules in South Florida.

Carla Vianna, Daily Business Review
December 9, 2016

Carol Brooks co-founded CREC in 1989

Carol Brooks co-founded CREC in 1989

National brokerages have cast ambitious eyes upon CREC, but the homegrown commercial real estate company has rejected several offers from big-name competitors.

Numerous South Florida firms such as CREC have held onto their stand-alone structures despite a wave of consolidations sweeping through the industry.

“The independent firm — our firm — we have the opportunity to be truly entrepreneurial, to be nimble, to shift very quickly, to forecast trends and respond to the dynamics in the marketplace,” said Carol Brooks, who co-founded CREC in 1989.

The Coral Gables-based company has grown to offer a wide spectrum of services, including asset and property management, tenant representation, construction management and creative workout solutions. With additional offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, CREC’s leasing and management portfolio is projected to close the year at 13.5 million square feet, up 18 percent from 2014.

Brooks attributes the growth to the company’s institutional infrastructure combined with an entrepreneurial spirit.

She said CREC is modeled after a law firm. The company brings in top performers as shareholders and gives employees investment opportunities in its real estate deals.

“Everybody’s success is intertwined,” Brooks said.

The Keyes Realty Co., like CREC, has also remained independent despite offers from national rivals.

Keyes, which is active in both commercial and residential markets, chose an alternative route to boost its market share. The company joined forces this year with Palm Beach Gardens-based Illustrated Properties, another independently run company that focuses on golf and high-end waterfront homes.

Mike Pappas, president and CEO of Keyes, said the merger allows them to leverage shared resources, specifically technology. The two companies continue to operate under their existing brand names and maintained their management teams and employees after the merger.

“We believe that we are partnering with our associates,” Pappas said. “In fact we celebrate collective independence. We’re independent, and our associates are independent. We allow them flexibility and freedom in our model that lets them do business the way they want to do it, whereas the corporate model is more structured and rule-oriented.”

A number of real estate companies, however, have opted for corporate ownership over the past two years.

Taylor & Mathis of Florida LLC sold to Cushman & Wakefield in August. Cushman also acquired Miami-based property manager Gibson Realty Group last April. The deals followed a $2 billion merger with Chicago-based DTZ, which significantly boosted Cushman’s national footprint.

The mandate after the DTZ merger was to “really grow the company and increase our market share,” said Larry Richey, a managing principal who leads the company’s Florida operations.

Cushman has since added over 300 people in Florida, two-thirds in South Florida.

The company competed against other brokerages for its South Florida acquisitions, Richey said.

Last year, Colliers International Group Inc. took over Miami-based Pointe Group Advisors LLC to strengthen the global company’s services in the region.

JLL went on to acquire Cresa South Florida, which focuses on tenant representation, for similar reasons.

Avison Young expanded its footprint two years ago when it purchased Abood Wood-Fay Real Estate Group LLC, a commercial brokerage and property management company that used to operate as Colliers International South Florida. Avison Young also purchased WG Compass Realty Cos. in West Palm Beach in 2013.

“It’s pretty phenomenal that that has not happened at CREC,” Brooks said.

When asked if CREC would always reject offers, co-founder and chairman Warren Weiser replied, “Always is a long time, but I don’t see us being anything but an independent firm.”

CREC Senior Vice President Arranges $36.2M Deal

Peter Mekras, Senior Vice President, CREC

A one-page flyer would not explain this deal.

When Peter Mekras began marketing three residential buildings in Miami Gardens, he launched a broad campaign that went beyond distributing “For Sale” flyers.

Mekras, who is senior vice president at CREC in Coral Gables, was tapped to sell 347 units in a 412-unit community called The Ellington. The residential complex is home to two apartment buildings and one fractured condominium.

It was Mekras’ job to find a buyer for 260 apartments in two rental buildings and 87 unsold condos in a 150-unit building that went through an unsuccessful condo conversion.

On paper, the deal may have appeared as a messy, convoluted transaction.

“When you’re dealing with a transaction that’s more complex, some people may see the property and think it’s not for them,” Mekras said. “It’s only through a conversation that you open their eyes.”

While Mekras sent out several flyers and email campaigns, he picked up the phone more often.

CREC takes a more boutique approach when representing its clients, he said. Mekras routinely calls dozens of potential buyers when he receives an assignment to create a broader candidate pool. He realizes that without that personalized call, the probability of catching an investor’s attention is significantly less.

When RAIT Financial Trust handed Mekras the listing, the seller asked for a closing by year-end. The Philadelphia-based real estate investment trust purchased the community for $32 million in 2011.

The Ellington was built in 1974 on County Line Road near the border of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

Mekras said finding a large-scale investment opportunity in Miami-Dade has become increasingly difficult, especially one with a value-add component. When The Ellington’s units hit the market, hundreds of groups were drawn to the property.

Over 200 signed confidentiality agreements to learn more about the deal.

“That was our goal,” he said. “We went wide and broad and deep to not miss out on the anomaly buyer.”

Mekras said the level of interest generated and the subsequent sale price speak to the depth of demand from investors seeking stable cash flow in South Florida.

Despite the competitive market, the asset was still a tough sell. Today’s apartment buyers are usually looking for product that could be backed by agency financing. These properties, however, were not seen as simple Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executions.

But Mekras was able to identify alternative lenders that would be willing to finance a deal that involved two apartment buildings and a fractured condo.

“Our process is not just putting the property out there, but also acting as an adviser to our client,” he said. “Price is a very important variable but not the only variable in the transaction.”

Mekras helped RAIT Financial assess risk and fully understand the terms and potential pitfalls of each prospective deal.

Because the transaction involved numerous homeowners’ associations, different parcels and several moving parts, it was quite an accomplishment when the deal was contracted and closed in 31 days.

The 347 units sold for $36.2 million, or about $104,000 per unit.

Mekras declined to identify the buyer but allowed that he or she was chosen after an in-depth interview process. CREC’s marketing process involves questionnaires that ask prospective purchasers details about their underwriting, the source of their debt, their equity and track record of closing transactions.

The final buyer’s responses were “nearly perfect.”

“When you end up with that situation, combined with very strong deal terms, it’s like getting an A on your report card,” he said. “It’s pretty hard not to put them at the top of the list.”

Mekras noted that South Florida’s population and job base continues to outpace the region’s housing supply. Any weakening observed in the rental apartment market is primarily a short-term absorption challenge, he said, and not a long-term supply and demand imbalance.

“While rent growth may slow near-term, South Florida will once again complete this development cycle and be undersupplied,” he added. “This is the pattern of our cyclical, but robust and high-barrier-to-entry market.”

Mekras, who joined CREC in 2009, has a track record of representing over $1.7 billion, 18,000 units and 12 million square feet of closed sale and capital markets transactions. He was instrumental in closing the $108 million financing of the 497-unit Melody Tower in downtown Miami.

CREC Assigned To Lease 3 Institutional Office Properties Totaling More Than 500,000 SF

CREC has been appointed to lead leasing at three office properties in South Florida’s key office markets of Brickell and Coral Gables.

The office buildings become the latest addition to CREC’s portfolio, which includes more than 100 properties totaling 13 million square feet across the state’s major markets. As the commercial real estate industry continues to consolidate amongst national firms, CREC remains Florida’s premier independent full-service commercial real estate firm, with offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

“We are thrilled with this new assignment, which comes on the heels of two other significant leasing and management contracts for institutional partners, highlighting CREC’s ability to continue to thrive and differentiate in a market otherwise defined by consolidation within the national brokerage houses,” said Carol Brooks, President of CREC.

Steven Hurwitz, Partner, Doug Okun, Senior Vice President, and Katie Fernandez-Espinosa, Senior Leasing Associate, will lead the office leasing efforts.

“Our institutional clients enjoy our full-service platform, local market expertise and track record to provide a holistic approach to real estate services,” CREC’s Steven Hurwitz said. “We have a uniquely collaborative team approach among disciplines, enabling us to provide institutional quality service in an entrepreneurial setting.”

The newest CREC assignments include:

800 Brickell Avenue: Located in Miami’s Brickell Financial District, CREC will lead the leasing efforts at the 15-story office tower 800 Brickell Avenue that has more than 212,000 square feet of office space and is home to tenants such as TotalBank, StateTrust, Prudential Insurance and Anheuser-Busch Companies.

The Alhambra: Situated in the heart of the Coral Gables Business District, CREC will oversee the leasing of The Alhambra office property located at 2 Alhambra Plaza. The building has 221,000 square feet of rentable office space and a tenant roster that includes Disney, Crystal Lagoons, Campbell Sales and Gresham, Smith and Partners.

The Alhambra West: Just a few blocks east, CREC will also handle the leasing at The Alhambra West, an office building totaling 91,000 square feet at 95 Merrick Way. The office property is home to tenants such as Northwestern University, Starbucks, US Department of State, and Pipeline Workspaces.

This is why your favorite Miami restaurants are closing

BY CARLOS FRÍAS AND NICHOLAS NEHAMAS | MIAMI HERALD
AUGUST 26, 2016 7:00 AM


Mark Scharnitz was sick of doing all the work.

He built a small café, The Corner Muse, that helped breathe new life into Miami’s Edgewater district at a time when drug dealers and street walkers worked openly. But when the neighborhood came up, so did his rent. And at the end of his five-year lease, after he had renovated the space into a thriving restaurant, his landlord tried to nearly triple his rent — and forced him out when he couldn’t pay.

The upscale seafood restaurant Mignonette now stands where Scharnitz’s dream once did.

“You bring people there. You build up the neighborhood. And when your lease is up, they don’t care — you’re out,” Scharnitz said.

Restaurants, like artists, move into depressed neighborhoods where rents are cheap, hoping their fans will follow. And when they do, they are often the first ones priced out.

It’s happening across Miami.

In May, Michelle Bernstein’s signature restaurant in the Mimo neighborhood, CENA by Michy’s, closed after a 10-year run. So did Mimo’s The Federal, even after a drastic, last-ditch makeover.

A key culprit in both cases? Rising rents.

South Florida’s smoking-hot commercial real estate market is pricing restaurants out. Rents have quadrupled in popular areas such as Brickell, Wynwood and the Upper East Side over the last few years, brokers and developers say. (Renters are feeling the same heat on the residential side, too.)

“It’s almost like New York real estate right now,” said Ivo Tsinev, a broker at Colliers International South Florida who represents both national chains and chef-driven restaurants.

The region’s appetite for restaurants is insatiable, research shows. People are eating out more and shopping at grocery stores less.

To wit: In Miami’s greater downtown, restaurant sales hit nearly $735 million in 2014, according to the Downtown Development Authority. That was up 78 percent over 2013.

And South Florida diners are dropping more cash than ever: Consumer restaurant spending in the region is growing at the second-fastest rate in the country, new statistics from brokerage CBRE say.

Landlords see that success and are asking chefs to pay up — or get out.

The perks of being a landlord

Scharnitz decided it wasn’t going to happen to him again.

Five years ago, he bought a building “for a song” ($280,000 for 3,490 square feet of space) on Northeast 54th Street in the heart of Little Haiti. That was before speculators decided it could be the next Wynwood, when he still had to worry about getting robbed like one of his managers did.

He ran his catering business out of the back. In February, when he thought the neighborhood was ready, he opened Philly Grub, making authentic cheesesteaks with shaved sirloin and housemade cheese “whiz.”

The restaurant is part of Little Haiti’s gentrification, bringing with it adventurous new customers — as well as rapidly rising rents. It’s the same old story — even in neighborhoods that have yet to prove themselves, rising rents push out restaurants that blazed a trail.

“People told me I was crazy,” Scharnitz said. “And the crazier they told me I was, the more I knew I had to do it. If you don’t buy your building, there’s just no way you can do it.”

Bernstein, an international award-winning chef raised in Miami, knows all about the dangers of not owning your own space.

She grew up in Mimo — the Miami Modern district along North Biscayne Boulevard south of 80th Street — and led the neighborhood’s revival by using her name to draw fans to a desolate part of town. She and chef/husband David Martinez even bought a house there. They still live there, but their restaurant is no longer part of the neighborhood it helped build.

“It’s devastating,” Bernstein said at the time. “We totally vested ourselves in that neighborhood.”

The issue? The building was sold before they signed a lease extension and the new owners asked nearly three times the rent, almost $60 a square foot. Bernstein had even renovated the restaurant a year ago, thinking she’d be there long term.

For her fans, it was like Emeril Lagasse being priced out of New Orleans.

“It’s indicative of what’s going on and what is going to continue going on in Miami,” said CENA co-owner Steven Perricone, a former New York restaurateur and developer who bought the property for Italian restaurant and market Perricone’s in 1994, when Brickell was a fine-dining wasteland.

Finding an area like Brickell or, perhaps, Little Haiti or Little River, before it blows up is hard.

If a chef wants to open up in an already established neighborhood, owning just isn’t realistic, said Andreas Schreiner, who owns the Pubbelly restaurant group, with locations in Sunset Harbor and downtown Miami.

“It’s a nice dream to do it, but the way real estate prices are now, it’s a little prohibitive, especially on the Beach,” Schreiner said. “We’re looking to expand on the mainland, but even in places like Wynwood or the Midtown corridor, prices have really gone up. So to be able to purchase … it’s just too much.”

At the mercy of the market

Owning a restaurant is a risky business.

The industry is rife with turnover. Some spots close before people even know they are open, even excellent ones such as Bazi, which folded after less than six months in ultra-competitive South Beach, despite a 3 1/2-star Miami Herald review.

But what’s happening in South Florida’s restaurant scene now is different, experts say.

It took Tsinev, the broker, two years to find the perfect space for one client in downtown Miami. He’s even given up using commercial real estate databases to find locations, because there’s too much competition for not enough space. Instead, he cold-calls landlords, from Miami’s Parks and Recreation Department to the Dominican consulate, to see if they’re interested in leasing to a restaurant. (It’s working, he says.)

“The gap is getting wider and wider between what landlords need to recover and what the chefs and all of these restaurants can afford to pay,” Tsinev said. “I’m not saying we’re in a bubble. But I hope it starts slowing down soon.”

The debacle at CENA wasn’t the first time rents have displaced Martinez and Bernstein. Their Sra. Martinez in the Design District folded after their rents went from $15 a square foot to nearly $50, from one lease to the next.

Martinez is stunned at the rents landlords are asking today. In Little Haiti, prices are nearly $40 a square foot. Even in Allapattah, he is seeing landlords asking $30 a square foot compared to less than $10 a year ago.

“Rents go up before a neighborhood proves itself in Miami,” Martinez said. “Rents are going to have to come down unless landlords don’t mind seeing their buildings empty.” More and more restaurants are opening outside the traditional hotspots of Brickell and South Beach. Some chefs are looking to suburbs, such as Kendall and Doral, said CREC broker Rafael Romero. “It creates a bidding war,” he said.

Drew Schaul of leasing firm RKF agreed. “The market is as tight as it’s ever been,” he said. “There’s a limited supply of great restaurant space, especially for the higher-end, chef-driven restaurant concept.”

Not all the new competition is up to snuff.

Many wealthy foreigners see opening a restaurant in Miami as a better investment than leaving their cash in struggling Latin American and European economies, said Emran Ally, a broker at CBRE. Some of the investors don’t know how to run a restaurant or play the real estate market.

“A lot of those tenants overpay [for space] and then landlords start charging more and the menu prices rise and it’s a slippery slope,” Ally said.

And there’s another way Miami’s hot real estate market hurts restaurants.

Most retail leases require tenants to pay property taxes, maintenance and insurance, on top of monthly rent.

If a buyer comes in and scoops up a building for a big price, Miami-Dade County will likely assess the property at a higher value — raising the taxes and leaving the restaurant tenant on the hook for the higher bill. That’s in addition to the new owner asking more rent once the original lease expires.

There are signs South Florida’s commercial real estate market could slow down — but they’re still far off.

For one, Miami’s residential building boom is cooling as sales plummet, meaning retail developers will face less competition from condo projects. The threat of Zika could also hinder tourism in the region, depressing restaurant sales.

‘Feed the neighborhood and it will feed you’

Restaurants can only run so far. Eventually, rents catch up.

Fiorito Argentine restaurant was a pioneer when it moved into Little Haiti, a block north of the famous Churchill’s music venue, four years ago. Most of its customers are from outside the area. The restaurant is drawing people from Miami Shores and El Portal and helping build interest in Little Haiti.

But Fiorito has seen its rent triple since it moved in. The owners, brothers Maximiliano and Cristian Álvarez, hope to grow with the neighborhood, but they already suspect one day they might have to relocate.

“Rents have gone way up,” Maximiliano Álvarez said. “People are running from higher rents, but eventually they all go up.”

When rents go up, chefs can’t just charge more for mac ‘n’ cheese, the way a boutique might mark up yoga pants.

“People feel we’re trying to take advantage of them,” Álvarez said.

Several chefs said the best-run restaurants make about a quarter on every dollar. An average one gets eight to 10 cents.

“Our bread is expensive enough,” jokes Zak Stern, who has developed a cult following in Wynwood as Zak the Baker. “High-quality food shouldn’t just be for the very wealthy.”

But good neighborhoods need good restaurants. A restaurant like Zak the Baker can build a community in ways an Old Navy or Banana Republic can’t.

“You feed the neighborhood and it will feed you,” says Goldman Properties managing partner Joe Furst, quoting his former boss, the late real estate developer Tony Goldman.

When Zak the Baker was looking to open in Wynwood, Furst made it happen. Goldman — which owns more than 30 properties in the neighborhood — designed and built a space for him and financed the deal.

When it came time to open a full production bakery in the heart of Wynwood (set to open in September), Goldman offered Stern a 10-year lease and favorable terms to keep him from moving to Doral or Medley.

“It’s in their interest not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” Stern said.

Some landlords see the logic in cutting restaurants a bit of slack.

“The restaurants, they bring people every day,” said Craig Robins, the developer who owns roughly three-quarters of properties in the Design District.

Robins said he generally charges restaurants about 25 percent of what his retailers pay.

Although he makes more money renting to Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Gucci, he says restaurants are crucial to the success of the luxury shopping mecca.

“People go out to eat much more than they shop,” said Robins, who is planning to open 10 restaurants by fall 2017.

Major property owners like Goldman and Robins are the exception. Because they own so many properties, they can afford to rent to restaurants at a lower rate. Smaller landlords can’t always do that, if they’re thinking about the bottom line.

But focusing only on the bottom line can kill a neighborhood.

Just ask Coconut Grove. Landlords brought in retailers and national chains with no connection to the community in the 1990s and the crowds lost interest. Only now that more independent eateries are opening — 33 Kitchen, Ariete, Glass and Vine, Lokal, Panther Coffee and Strada, just to name a few — is Coconut Grove experiencing a revival.

It’s a lesson for Mimo, Little River, Little Haiti — and the chefs taking a chance on the next up-and-coming neighborhood. Your success could be your undoing, unless you buy in on the ground floor.

“Nobody’s going to tell me I have to leave,” said Philly Grub’s owner, Scharnitz. “I’m here for the long haul.”

Nicholas Nehamas: 305-376-3745, @NickNehamas

Carlos Frías: 305-376-4624, @Carlos_Frias