Spotlight On: Andrew Verzura, Principal, VCM Builders, Inc.

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read August 2019 — The amount of construction in a region is almost always an effective gauge of how the local economy is doing. Broward County is among those regions that has become synonymous with an abundance of ongoing and future construction projects, which speaks volumes to its strong and growing economy. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Andrew Verzura, Principal of VCM Builders, Inc, one of the construction companies benefiting from the strong market in Broward County. Verzura discussed trends in the market, how Broward County compares to other markets and what the future of the construction industry in Broward County may look like.

What trends are emerging in the renovation projects VCM is working on?

In construction, we have to constantly regroup because the market changes. In recent years, our company decided to focus on renovations. Some of the trends we are seeing call for cleaner designs because people want to get away from heavy woods and marble, which don’t hold up well. We are seeing more porcelain, lighter colors, fewer moldings and more technology-based demands. Most of these condo buildings that were built 15 years ago did not have the technology we have today, so I’m challenged in every condo building with elevator integration, security integration and package rooms. Millennials want the ability to run almost everything off their phones, and we have to try and meet that demand. 

How does Broward County compare with the other markets you work in? 

The difference with Broward County is that it’s a very small, close-knit community. You can meet the commissioners, public officials or the building official and they all remember you. They are extremely friendly to do business with because they have a set of rules and regulations they follow. Whenever we have issues, I can go speak with somebody. I would say that over the last 15 years, I’ve been able to work with the city to solve 95% of the problems we’ve had. People are coming here because the business environment is so friendly.

How have rising construction costs affected your business? 

Construction costs are very expensive, and they have not gone down. Compared to when we started building spec houses in 2013 to where we are now, construction costs are up 30%. Construction costs are deal breakers for a lot of projects that we are looking at because they just do not make financial sense. The banks are not going to finance projects when the numbers do not make sense and will not work. We have seen many of the large rental communities being funded by pension funds. Most of these projects, which are primarily funded by pension and real estate funds, have been looking for a 6% return.

How does the next year look for the construction industry in Broward County? 

My outlook for Broward is still very strong. There is competition but that is a good thing. I believe we will still see people buy properties here. We have a friendly environment for developing and a government that is pro development. As long as we have builders and developers continuing to focus on sensible building, then we should be in good shape for the next year. We have to be very careful and look at deals that make sense because there are a lot of inflated deals out there right now. People all think their property is worth so much money but in reality it is only worth as much as people are willing to pay for it. The market is leveling off, which is not a bad thing, and it will be interesting to see how the market accepts all the new rental buildings in downtown. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

http://vcmbuilders.com

Spotlight On: Brett Forman, President & CEO, Trez Forman Capital

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read July 2019 — The demand for residential and commercial real estate development in Palm Beach County is at a high, and developers are jumping at the opportunity to capitalize. This spike in demand has not only been beneficial to developers but also to those who are helping fund this development. Invest: Palm Beach recently sat down with Brett Forman, President and CEO of Florida-based, commercial bridge lender Trez Forman Capital. He discussed how Palm Beach County is uniquely positioned for real estate development, and how his company is benefiting from the boom in the market.

Where are you seeing the highest demand for your services? 

We experience the highest demand from developers of condominiums or multifamily rental apartments. There are a variety of financial firms pursuing these type of deals, but we offer something slightly different. We’re competing with banks every day, and we’re competing with more traditional mezzanine players and preferred equity investors. As a result, we have to be creative and offer a unique one-stop shop, including higher proceeds than the banks and non-recourse options. 

How is Palm Beach County a unique market for real estate development? 

Palm Beach County is home to some of the most expensive residential real estate in the world. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s also home to some of the poorest areas. So when you talk about Palm Beach real estate, you’re talking about a very diverse asset mix.

Trez Forman is more or less asset-agnostic; we lend against residential real estate, whether it’s apartment communities for rent, single-family houses for rent or condominiums for sale. We don’t necessarily construct homes, but we finance the lot on which developers do the horizontal development. 

What differentiates Trez Forman Capital from a traditional bank? 

It’s very easy to understand what differentiates us from the banks, since the banks are highly regulated. They have to do things according to what the regulatory agencies prescribe, and their leverage is usually much lower and typically requires recourse. What we’re offering is a much higher loan-to-cost solution. Trez Forman basically can take what the bank and the preferred equity investor offers and combine it to provide our clients with a one-stop solution that has surety of execution. We like to under-promise and over-deliver. We can fund a deal in 30 to 45 days, unlike a bank that may not be able to lend in that timeframe.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit its website:

https://www.trezforman.com/

Top 5 Trendiest Neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read July 2019 The growth of the Fort Lauderdale area is a true testament to the collaborative efforts of the city’s private and public sectors. The positive effects of this growth can be witnessed in the development, redevelopment and preservation of the city’s neighborhoods. 

Here, Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale explores Fort Lauderdale’s five trendiest and up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Victoria Park: A beautiful mix of traditional “Florida” homes and new development, Victoria Park has long been a staple neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. The revitalization of the area is thanks to its close proximity to Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas Boulevard and cultural centers like the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. 

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale spoke with Doron Broman, managing partner of Moderno Development Group, about its investment in the development within Victoria Park. “We are tapping into the near downtown areas because more people are seeking to live in more walkable areas, where they need to spend less time commuting to work and experience a more urban lifestyle,” Broman said. “We are building very modern, urban townhouse rental communities in trendy Victoria Park.”

Tarpon River District: Located just north of Davie Boulevard and west of Andrews Avenue, Tarpon River District is a neighborhood whose appeal is thanks to its proximity to downtown Fort Lauderdale and emphasis on family life. With a recent influx of mixed-income homes and apartments, access to some of the cities best parks and the locally famous Tarpon River Brewing company, this neighborhood will continue to be a top choice of young families. 

“We are keen on Tarpon River District, which we believe is the new cool work-live-play hub, located right in the center of Fort Lauderdale,” Broman told Invest:. 

Flagler Village: Twenty years ago, this neighborhood was a rundown warehouse and residential district. Today, Flagler Village is one of the trendiest areas in Fort Lauderdale. The collaboration between artists and developers has transformed the neighborhood into a premier arts district with offerings of luxury rental apartments, restaurants and arts and culture. The Village is also home to the Brightline train station, which supplies a steady flow of traffic into the neighborhood daily. 

“Many developers have looked to the beach and Flagler Village areas in Fort Lauderdale. We are also invested in Flagler Village,” Broman said

Las Olas Isles: Due to its proximity to Las Olas Boulevard and Fort Lauderdale Beach, Las Olas Isles is the perfect mix of retail, restaurants and a coastal lifestyle. Luxury living like this comes with a hefty price tag. Homes in the area range from $1 million to $40 million and rental units are in the thousands. 

Colee Hammock: Not only is this one of the oldest neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, it is also one of the most diverse and eco-conscious in the city. Situated next to the Intercoastal Highway and the New River, Colee Hammock offers residents a wide variety of homes and walkability to theaters, restaurants, retail and entertainment venues. This eclectic neighborhood is home to a wide demographic, from the working class to the wealthy. 

Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale discussed development in Colee Hammock with Andrew Verzura, principal of VCM Builders, Inc. “We are working on a residential project in Colee Hammock, a historic neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale established in 1913. We are constructing a home that is being built around some of the area’s oldest and mature foliage. This is a neighborhood that has a special relationship and respect for the nature within it.” 

 

For more information visit:

http://vcmbuilders.com/

https://www.modernodev.com