Real estate development is booming in Fort Lauderdale

Real estate development is booming in Fort Lauderdale

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read –  Real estate development in Fort Lauderdale is getting a jolt of confidence despite the lingering impact of COVID-19. On March 24, a majority of businesses were forced to shut down after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide shelter-in-place order. However, construction companies, hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and other essential businesses were allowed to carry on with work as usual.

 

Florida is just one of several states that allowed construction to continue despite nationwide shutdowns. Similar to many other regions in the area, development is a vital part of Fort Lauderdale’s economy. The construction industry is projected to have the largest industry increase in employment from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

A strong signal of the confidence in the market is a recent move by Oko Group, an international real estate development firm founded by Vladislav Doronin. It is the first company to close a large deal since the beginning of COVID-19. The firm recently purchased 6.68 acres of land east of the county courthouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for $62.59 million. “Oko Group is excited to expand its portfolio of South Florida real estate with the acquisition of a mixed-use development site in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s urban core,” the developer said in a statement reported by South Florida Business Journal. “The Oko Group team, led by Doronin, now looks forward to working with the city of Fort Lauderdale to finalize plans for an exceptional development that will help to further transform the Downtown district while adding significant amenities for nearby residents and businesses.”

The majority of developments in the pipeline for Fort Lauderdale will most likely be residential. Retail and office real estate have proven themselves to be the weakest sectors in the market during the pandemic. “Prior to COVID-19, South Florida’s real estate sector was very strong, propelled by the demand and low interest rates. I think the commercial office market may see a bit of a correction. So many people are working from home and I imagine that most of them are going to continue to do that the rest of the year. I think business owners are getting more comfortable allowing their employees to work remotely. So far, the industrial and residential markets have proven themselves to be the strongest sectors in the real estate industry during the pandemic. I don’t think we’ll see any correction there. Currently, at Touchstone Webb Realty Company, we are watching retail and commercial as we move forward. We think it is going to take a good year before we see this sector begin to correct. We are still purchasing industrial and flex spaces for our clients,” Susan Thomas, president of Touchstone Webb Realty Company, told Invest: Palm Beach.

As Thomas mentioned, CDC regulations like social distancing have compelled more people to want to work from home. As a result, business owners could require less office space. Fairfield Cypress Creek is just one example of this trend. The new mixed-use project is currently underway between 6500 and 6520 N. Andrews Ave. The land which was originally occupied by office buildings will now hold 295 residential units, shops and restaurants. A new downtown could be another exciting project on the horizon for Broward County. Broward is recruiting a large company to relocate to the 140 acres next to the Everglades in Sunrise. “It’s one of the last few pieces you could make a statement. We really want to market this site internationally, not just nationally,” County Manager Bertha told the Sun Sentinel. 

 

 

The Post-Pandemic City

The Post-Pandemic City

By: Abby Melone, President & CEO, Capital Analytics

It’s a truism in today’s hyper-connected world that people go where the jobs are, more so now than ever before. But what happens when your job suddenly can be done from anywhere?

 

The 19th century ushered in the first and second Industrial Revolutions that saw more and more people move to urban environments, precisely because that’s where the jobs were. In the United States, the rise of manufacturing opened a new world of employment possibilities, pushing people from the farm to the factory. It’s a push that in one way or another continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. The result is seen today in the population densities that cram big cities from coast to coast, border to border.

According to the United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects report and the website Our World in Data, the world crossed over in 2007. That’s the fist year the number of people living in urban areas rose above the number living in rural areas (3.35 billion versus 3.33 billion). In the United States, around 82.3% of the population lives in urban areas, according to the World Bank. Growth trajectories project a steady increase in urbanization as far out as 2050. 

Today, the millennial generation is changing the character of urbanization by spearheading the live-work-play ethos. This generation prefers to skirt the traffic jams and live and play near where they work. The goal to have it all close by has given rise to the mixed-use building concept that puts everything – your living options, your entertainment choices and your shopping – all in one convenient location, which preferably, is near your workplace. 

It also means we are all living closer to each other in smaller and smaller spaces. That seemed to suit a lot of people just fine. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and all of sudden, none of that seemed fine at all.

The pandemic resulted in shelter-in-place orders that forced people to live 24 hours a day in their homes while also working from their home offices, if they had one, or their kitchen tables if they didn’t. The very idea of needing to go somewhere else to do your job turned out to be not so much of a necessity after all. In just a few months, priorities appear to have shifted. Now, many of us seem to crave space, the great outdoors, and we seem to be split 50-50 on whether we want to continue working from home, wherever we choose that to be, or prefer an official office setting, mostly for the socializing.

There is little doubt that the world has changed as a result of the pandemic. Most experts are puzzling on whether that change will last and just what our cities will look like as a result. The fact is, though, that change was already in play before COVID-19 hit.

My company focuses on nine major U.S. markets like Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia. We talk to industry and political leaders to understand the issues their communities face to gauge the direction in which they are moving. Today, everyone is talking about the pandemic’s impact on the retail sector, for example. Yet, e-commerce was already a thing before COVID-19. In 2019, a record 9,800 stores were shuttered, according to a Bloomberg report, with 25,000 closures expected in 2020 due to the coronavirus impact, the report said, citing Coresight Research. Yes, that’s a devastating impact, but the pandemic really has only accelerated the pace of implementation. It pushed more people online immediately, but those people were likely headed there anyway.

Many of the leaders we have spoken with during the pandemic agree that retail and commercial real estate was already undergoing a slowdown as industrial space to accommodate last-mile delivery for the Amazons of the world was booming. Many expect this trend will continue.

More importantly, what the pandemic has done has caused a rethink of priorities among individuals and it is this impact that will likely shape the post-pandemic city. Living in lockdown awakened people to the “smallness” of their space, forced on them by a combination of convenience and higher and higher housing prices in big cities. The median listing price for a home in Miami-Dade, for example, was $465,050 in May compared to the average U.S. listing price of $329,950, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Interestingly, population growth in Miami-Dade was already slowing as more people moved out, with escalating living costs among the factors. With the pandemic highlighting the risks of living so close together, will more people decide that farther away is not only cheaper, but safer?

Big city living will change in the post-pandemic world as social distancing forces “people places” like gyms and restaurants to accommodate lingering fears from the virus. Tens of thousands of small businesses have already closed down for good, clearly altering the very unique characteristics of cities that attracted people in the first place.

The biggest impact, however, will be on how – and where – jobs are done. Remote working is hear to stay in some form or another. Like the industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, people will always go where the jobs are. For many, those jobs will now be done from home, which means that home can be virtually anywhere. It creates choice like never before, and this will dramatically alter the character, although not likely the course, of urbanization. That’s an important difference. 

Big cities have seen the ebbs and flows of population growth before and will likely see them again. Through it all, they have more often thrived than not. The post-pandemic city may look and feel a bit different – the way condo units are built, for example, may change to accommodate working from home, while adding elements like air filters to battle any future virus outbreak – and there may even be a greater push to the suburbs in the short term. Overall, however, continued urbanization likely will remain on the cards. If we’re lucky, there may just be a little more distance between all of us.

 

Spotlight On: Mary Beth Tarter, Principal, Frankel, Loughran, Starr & Vallone

Spotlight On: Mary Beth Tarter, Principal, Frankel, Loughran, Starr & Vallone

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020 Many of the nation’s largest capital operators are increasingly moving headquarters and operations to South Florida to take advantage of the business and tax advantages available in the Sunshine State. As a result, the region is starting to transform its reputation as a playground to be recognized as an environment for serious business, Mary Beth Tarter, the regional head of tax advisory and accounting services firm Frankel, Loughran, Starr & Vallone, told Invest: Palm Beach.

 

What main services does the firm provide in the Florida market?

We are a tax advisory and accounting firm. Our clients are primarily in the financial services industry, such as hedge funds, venture capital, private equity and distressed debt. We also do a lot of commercial real estate. 

 

I work on the individual side of the practice, so I work with fund principals and fund managers, helping with compliance and advisory. We look at their estate planning, trust, gifts, private foundations, all those tools that the high-net-worth group uses.

 

We’ve been here for three years, and we expect to continue growing, to continue expanding our staff within the next six to eight months.

 

What are the particular opportunities that South Florida offers for the kind of clients your firm specializes in?

 

Our firm has always had connectivity to South Florida, because the ultra-high-net-worth community will have vacation homes here. But it really started in 2017, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was the most sweeping tax law change we’ve had since 1986. Hedge funds and private equity funds could stand to lose millions because of the deductions that were not allowed at the individual level, even at the partnership level. It got to the point where some of them looked at it very analytically, and recognized that moving to Florida could save them $1 million a year because of the tax situation, and so they moved.

 

Over the course of 2018 and 2019, I think our firm handled more residency planning for our clients than we did in the previous 24 years. Many of them did it from an analytical standpoint, while for others, it was just the impetus that they needed: they decided that now was the time.

 

The wonderful part of already having connectivity is that it was seamless for our clients. Now we are here, boots on the ground, and that’s very important for us. They expect a certain level of service and we did not want any disruption to that.

 

People are also starting to recognize that Florida is not just a playground. This is a very serious business area as well. The median age of people moving down here is younger, and that speaks tremendously to the local commerce, the lifestyles that people want for their families, for their businesses. There are so many companies relocating or expanding down here, and of course, taking advantage of the fact that it is, in a lot of cases, tax driven.

 

Has that recognition created a new environment for investors in Florida?

 

It has. New York is rebalancing its budget because Carl Icahn is moving to Miami. New Jersey is rebalancing its budget because David Tepper left. They are coming to Miami to be part of the hedge fund community there, which is amazing.

 

We’ve actually just created another division, with a gentleman who has been in the hedge fund community for the last 25 years. He is Latin by birth and is looking to expand and help those startup funds, even those that are coming from Latin America as well. A big part of our clientele also has international connectivity.

 

How do you see the reactivation of the commercial real estate industry after COVID-19 is left in the rear-view mirror?

 

I think the real estate industry is going to be a little stalled until people can get outside again. Then they are going to start taking advantage of the opportunities they have been denied over the last couple of months. I truly believe that for anybody who has the available cash, for the most part, our clients among them, we will see an increase of activity in both commercial and residential real estate because you weren’t allowed to do it. 

 

All companies, not just those in commercial real estate, need to be really thoughtful about what they do in the future, especially those people who have taken the stimulus loans, such as the PPP loans. You have certain requirements that you have to certify in order to go through the application process, but I also believe there’s going to be heavy oversight to limit the potential of fraud.

 

This has forced a lot of people to pivot their business model, and I think that some of the things that people have come up with are amazing, and a true credit to the ingenuity of the entrepreneur. I see nothing but positives after this is done. I really don’t see any negatives.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: http://www.flsv.com/

Spotlight On: David Dymecki, Managing Director, Perkins and Will

Spotlight On: David Dymecki, Managing Director, Perkins and Will

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020Architectural design studio Perkins and Will’s Atlanta office is keeping busy with work in the city’s many Opportunity Zones, and sees a growing tendency toward mixed-use facilities combining pre–COVID 19 entertainment and hospitality, retail, commercial and sports and recreation/fitness, Managing Director David Dymecki said in an interview with Focus: Atlanta. 

 

How would you describe your smart development approach to your products?

The way we approach development in the city and the region is through four major focus areas. A focus on the local context in each of our projects. Whether it’s Downtown, Westside or Buckhead, place and context is always at the forefront of our minds. A focus on people and experience: human-centered design with deliberate strategies and solutions focused on program, scale, and materials. A focus on living design: work that is inclusive, sustainable, resilient, regenerative, and addresses the well-being of the community. A focus on partnership: we are first and foremost partners with our clients and the cities in which we work; we are strategic thinkers, designers, and implementers. 

 

Focusing on these four areas has served us well before and during this COVID 19 environment, where our approach as always has been one of renewal and regeneration. This focus has served our clients, our communities, and our cities well. With a simplified language and visual communications tools, our approach makes these complex, interdependent issues easier to understand and implement.

 

Furthermore, our experience on a range of project types and design scales allows us to bring together diverse points of view to bring forth the appropriate big ideas, special details and long-range solutions. Our systems thinking has allowed us to be agile to address the design or the process that needs to change based on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Our work includes community-enhancing projects of adaptive re-use and mixed use, which incorporate residential, office, retail, hospitality, transportation and even learning, health, sports and recreation. We are still seeing growth in Atlanta in these community-focused projects. 

 

What is the studio’s approach to sports architecture?

We’ve been fortunate to grow a thriving national sports practice. My background has always been in sports architecture, focused primarily on the collegiate marketplace. We started the practice 10 years ago and have grown our sports and recreation practice nationally and internationally. We consistently rank among the Top10 sports/recreation/entertainment firms in the country.

 

Regionally, our Atlanta and Denver studios are working with the city of Savannah to design a new mixed-use entertainment venue. In addition to the arena, we’re working with city leadership to master plan Savannah’s Canal District, an exciting opportunity to re-vitalize an historic part of the city. Closer to Atlanta, we’ve recently completed a new wellness center for Piedmont Healthcare System. 

 

One trend we’re experiencing in the marketplace locally, regionally and nationally is the integration of healthcare, recreation, collegiate and professional sports, and well-being;  partnerships between healthcare, professional sports, colleges and universities, and cities. We see this as a growing market, a trend that will continue in the future.

 

What development advantages come from Opportunity Zones in the area?

 

Established in 2017, Opportunity Zones are a community and economic development tool that aim to drive long-term private investment into underserved communities throughout the country. The program works to encourage developers to invest in local business, real estate and development projects in exchange for a reduction in their tax obligations. Atlanta has more than 25 Opportunity Zones, many of them are in the south and western portions of the city. As strategists and designers, we’re active in a few of the zones across the city, helping our clients realize positive impacts for our local communities and developer clients. We’ve also created partnership opportunities for our university and developer clients to achieve multidimensional impacts that benefit both “town and gown.” These areas of the city are poised for investment, long-term growth, community engagement, and will be catalysts for change.

 

After the COVID-19 crisis is over, do you see changes to the way you do your work in terms of hygiene measures, social distancing and the like?

 

I believe we will learn a lot about flexibility, agility, working from home and work-life balance in the upcoming months. We are going to evaluate the needs related to workspace, learning environments, retail, hospitality, transportation, and public infrastructure and amenities. How people get to and from work, in and out of our urban centers or attend sporting events will change in the short term and long term. I believe we’ll see a renewed entrepreneurial spirit, and new business ventures as a result of social distancing and COVID-19. We’re excited about the future impact design and our profession will have on new ideas and initiatives. 

 

COVID-19 is not the first global pandemic, it’s the just the first of modern society. We’ve packed rapid transformational ideas into the past 10 weeks that in the past has taken 10 years. A few transformations rising are to the top of our business: flexibility and overlay planning. Large sporting venues and events have been addressing flexibility and overlay for years. When you design the overlay, you’re designing the venue for everyday use, but you’re also planning for the two to four weeks of overlay features and program to accommodate the media, a larger influx of fans, expanded retail and hospitality, and back of house service. You’re designing flexibility and agility for everyday, gameday, and special events. I believe we’ll see a similar approach to other buildings, such as learning environments, retail, cultural venues and commercial real estate.

 

I doubt we’ll redesign every building, it’s not feasible or affordable, nor entirely relevant to how people will use and occupy space in the long term. I think we are going to look at the overlay scenario. What we’re hearing from clients in several markets is to not over-correct based on the current health situation.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://perkinswill.com/person/david-dymecki/

 

 

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read June 2020 —Global design and engineering firm Stantec likes to think beyond traditional traits to focus on building communities,  Senior Principal Andrew Burnett told Invest: Miami in an interview. The company goal is to deliver continuity while protecting diversity and creative thinking. Stantec calls it “cultural resilience.”

 

 

What recent Stantec landmarks in the Miami-Dade region would you like to share? 

Recent landmark projects in full swing include Wynwood Square, a 12-story mixed-use facility that includes apartments and retail space; the 30-story YotelPAD Miami condo and hotel project under construction; and a 43-story Luma tower in Miami’s Worldcenter. And there are a lot of new projects to be announced soon and currently coming on board. Each asset within our portfolio contributes to our growth in the creative services space, beyond architecture and interior design, but also engineering and resilience. We think beyond traditional physical traits and focus on how our vast team builds our communities and what we create so there is continuity in our lives and the spaces we inhabit and to ensure that we protect diversity and creative thinking. We call it cultural resilience. 

How has your emphasis on cultural resilience unlocked your success? 

From a business perspective, a model that focuses on a single person is inherently limited to that individual. Whereas a business with tremendous expertise and resources in multiple channels, like Stantec, focuses on collaboration and the bandwidth to achieve more. When we empower people and foster collaboration, we are able to affect more positive change, get more involved in opportunities and better affect our clients’ bottom line. 

How would you rate local industry efforts on environmental resilience? 

There is a significant level of agreement across the industry related to what we are facing and where we need to go. It is only a matter of how and there are varying perspectives to harness. Our government agencies, utilities, partners, clients, insurance agencies and lenders all commonly understand the need to mitigate prevalent risks and maintain our quality of life. There is power in the collective movement and I am optimistic about our future and path. 

What opportunities and innovations can we expect from the post-COVID-19 period? 

There is a shift of trust and working in a different way. It may pose opportunities to bring in industry experts who normally could not access a project in South Florida. Now, they can have an influence and we can tap into knowledge we may not have been able to tap into before. Companies can even attract a different type of workforce that we could not attract before by operating with new flexibility. Also, we take proximity for granted and do not always make the best use of our time because of it. When it is an amenity or a luxury, you make better use of it. 

What will 2020-21 look like for Stantec and Miami-Dade? 

We have been quite busy, which is a reflection of the busy private development market. Projects are moving forward and the entire development community is gearing up for when the play button is pressed. In 2009, during the H1N1 outbreak, we established a pandemic committee, granting us an effective way to respond quickly to the pandemic and set up a remote work setting. Fast forward to today: Our productivity levels have allowed us to meet established deadlines and keep projects moving forward, continuing business as usual. Our current outlook for 2021 does not project significant levels of interruption. We want to continue to support that in any way we can. 

To learn more, visit: 

https://www.stantec.com/en

 

 

South Florida real estate leaders analyze opportunities in current economic cycle

South Florida real estate leaders analyze opportunities in current economic cycle

By: Felipe Rivas

Virtually every sector of the economy has been pinched, crushed, or depleted by the initial impact of conducting business during the coronavirus landscape. Months into the “new normal,” industries and businesses have had to adapt operations to cope with COVID-19 related challenges. While many businesses remain embattled by the current economic cycle, innovation and opportunity are beginning to rise from the initial shocks of the novel coronavirus. 

 

In South Florida, a region hit particularly hard by coronavirus, real estate professionals are closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 to the market while analyzing current and future opportunities. “Simply put, the South Florida industrial real estate market is healthy, even in the midst of a global pandemic,” Miami Cushman & Wakefield Managing Partner Gian Rodriguez told Invest: Miami. When you factor in the scarcity of developable industrially-zoned land, a growing population, single-digit vacancy rates, steady air and sea cargo volumes from our ports, as well as positive lease absorption of industrial product, it’s no wonder the major institutional owners and occupiers have a large stake in our market,” he said. These factors coupled with demand for e-commerce provide opportunities for distribution, logistics and warehousing subsectors in Miami-Dade County. “With the onset of COVID-19, we’ve only seen an increase in demand for well-located distribution space, further spurred-on by stay-at-home mandates which have only bolstered online orders.  Just take a look around, there are UPS, FedEx, DHL and Amazon trucks rolling down our streets almost on an hourly basis, and each one of those come from a warehouse within our market,” Rodriguez said. 

New construction will likely experience a growth in demand as population growth continues in South Florida and residents settle into the suburbs and other communities away from the downtown areas. “While we are only in the early innings of the COVID-19 impact on real estate, we are following several trends closely. New construction may have an advantage over existing, as residents will likely equate “new” with “clean and safe,” Lesley Deutch, principal with John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Palm Beach, told Invest: Palm Beach. “We are also anticipating a trend we call ‘the Great American Move.’  For safety reasons, financial prospects, life change improvements, personal comfort, or employment, we expect a surge in household and business relocations that will provide new strategic opportunities for the real estate market,” she said. This trend will likely create opportunities for real estate developers, investors and home builders. “New construction can incorporate technology such as air purification and touchless lighting which will appeal to future residents. A stronger focus on health and wellness will translate into new housing product with better home offices or private workspaces in apartments, flexibility for multigenerational living, private outdoor space, and a preference for functionality over design appeal in the home,” she said.   

 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: https://www.realestateconsulting.com/

https://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/united-states/people/gian-rodriguez

 

 

Spotlight On: Angelo Bianco, Managing Partner; Crocker Partners

Spotlight On: Angelo Bianco, Managing Partner; Crocker Partners

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020Shrinking office space has led companies to focus more on the rehabilitation and renovation of Palm Beach’s office space. Angelo Bianco, managing partner of Crocker Partners, walks Invest: through the main trends in the office niche, how it imbues sustainability and resilience into its projects and why Boca Raton is the buoyant business center it is today.

 

 

What is your take on the evolution of the office sector in Palm Beach?

Palm Beach County’s office market has not changed as much as others. Office users by and large have not changed. Even considering new trends such as co-working spaces, it makes up a small fraction of our portfolio. We have observed tenants in Palm Beach County making an effort to reduce their square footage per employee, parallel with technological advances. The need for law firms to have file storage, for instance, has declined dramatically. We still see the desire for private offices and a significant portion of traditional office use. Some companies have switched to open offices, but the pendulum is swinging back even faster now due to the pandemic. The trend to create more private offices and more square feet per employee will offset the impact from the other trend we expect following the coronavirus crises: more telecommuting. Although technology has changed the need for space, the human condition has not changed. People still appreciate privacy and separation from their co-workers.  

What primary factors explain these preferences?

Our Palm Beach portfolio consists of 3 million square feet of office space. Most of our tenants have renovated their space over the past 10 years. Even though firms have grown since the 2008 crisis, their footprint has not gotten larger than it used to be because they use the same office space much more efficiently. Shortly before the coronavirus crisis, we reached the point where employment gains fueled by the longest economic expansion in our history backfilled the space lost during that last downturn.

We are on the cusp of a new disruption with the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news for office landlords is that tenants have already reduced their space needs per employee significantly and during this past economic expansion have not taken additional space for growth. Although some office tenants will be significantly impacted by the pandemic, office tenants and their landlords should be in a good position to weather this storm.

How do you view the residential and industrial sectors?

During the first 10 years of our company’s existence, we developed and invested in many property types: hotels, multifamily, retail, office and industrial. Over the years, we specialized in office buildings primarily and although our business has done quite well as a result, the over concentration in one product type has prevented us from participating in the significant growth experienced in multifamily and industrial property over the last 10 years, particularly in Palm Beach. Despite the recent impact on the multifamily market, we believe that this sector will continue to benefit from the constant inflow of people moving into the area who require housing. This is the same reason that we are bullish on industrial. The Southeast region of the United States is an area that continues to see fast-paced growth in employment and population so investing in front of that is critical. 

What is your assessment of the up-and-coming Boca Raton market?

Boca Raton is by far the biggest employment base in the county. It dwarfs any other market. If you took all the office space in West Palm Beach and doubled it, you would still fall short of where Boca Raton is positioned. It has been a business hub for decades and will continue to be an attractive place for companies to headquarter. The quality of life is phenomenal, plus it has an unparalleled access in Palm Beach County to an incredibly well-educated, well-informed workforce. This is part of the reason we have been headquartered there for 35 years.

What is Crocker Partners’ outlook for 2020?

2020 is going to be a muted year. Any noncritical, ongoing investment project is likely to be delayed until 2021. Everything has stopped dead in its tracks due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Regardless of when businesses restart, it takes time to remobilize, meaning projects will not realistically recommence any sooner than 4Q20. The delay will be made worse by the fact that everyone will want to restart their projects at the same time. By Q121, we expect to be back to business as usual. We expect to spend much of the remainder of 2020 focusing on ensuring a safe workplace environment for our tenants. In April, we formed a Remobilization Task Force headed by our director of construction and development and consisting of senior regional managers in consultation with our vendors and contractors to review and implement governmental and industry guidelines and evaluate best practices and potential capital improvements to facilitate a healthy work environment. We are also in the process of hiring a full-time director of environmental health who will absorb the responsibilities of the Remobilization Task Force on a permanent basis and research and implement physical changes and protocols with the hope of making our buildings the paragon of environmentally health and safety in the industry.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://crockerpartners.com/

 

Spotlight On: Tim Perry, Managing Partner, North American Properties

Spotlight On: Tim Perry, Managing Partner, North American Properties

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020—The new real estate landscape will belong to those companies who find value through innovation, differentiation and that are ready and able to provide safe environments for their guests. Tim Perry, managing partner of North American Properties, provides the details of how the company is tackling development, leading the community out of isolation, and where it sees opportunity for future investment.

 

How is your “Smart Development” concept influencing projects across Atlanta’s real estate landscape?

North American Properties began to retool our approach to property operations during our reprogramming of Atlantic Station, a 138-acre mixed-use development in Atlanta that was once on the “death watch” list of many real estate pros. We deployed a hospitality-focused approach, implemented a strategic remerchandising plan and created a heavily activated environment for guests to enjoy. Through trial and error, we curated a robust and mixed-use experience that resonated with the community and turned around the property. We even trademarked the term ExperienceMaker™ to refer to the concierge and operations team that delivered this intrinsic sense of place and belonging to guests – we became stewards of the community’s asset. We were able to deploy this same formula at Avalon in a nationally recognized way and found that the street level activation was only part of it – the ancillary developments were a large contribution to the overall success of a mixed-use destination. Whether working in an office, living in a residential unit, or staying in the hotel, each component contributed to the greater effect, and rent reflected 40%-plus above market. 

We are now deploying this same concept at Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta, and Newport on the Levee in Newport, Kentucky. Colony Square will feature the first dense infill theater in the market along with a nationally renowned operator launching a Food Hall. In Newport, amid the leasing angst created by COVID-19, we signed eight leases while on quarantine and opened the Bridgeview Box Park, a colorful, open-air box park featuring local restaurants and retailers, on the Ohio River at the beginning of the summer. Elements like these are not just for our guests, but drive the desire to live near and work near the amenity-rich “Smart Development.”

 

How is your company tackling ground-up developments?

Residential fundamentals are strong, both in single family with low rates and with multifamily as the trend continues to slowly move toward rent vs own. We will see how the long-term effects of density affect in-town locations, but we are very optimistic on close suburbs where the cost can be reduced. The COVID-19 effect also has turned some landlords of office/retail properties into land sellers of portions of their site for residential, due to lease encumbrances that are expiring or businesses not opening following the pandemic. Commercially, we are seeking existing assets that are mixed-use, or can be turned into a mixed-use development. For example, a surface-parked suburban office project may present an opportunity to add neighborhood amenity retail, residential, hospitality, and at a lower basis than ground-up development of the entire property. It is the community that has to accept the project, so we are being selective. 

 

What is your assessment of the CARES Act?

Small businesses lead the country out of tough economic times – they are nimble, creative, and entrepreneurial at heart. The initial PPP program was really beneficial to small businesses, and was a very creative way of using businesses to essentially put unemployment checks into people’s hands until the program changed and midsized businesses no longer were able to gain that access and employees found themselves in a long queue for unemployment. Having said that,  the SBA was trying to find a few solutions for millions of business problems and not all fit, so I applaud the states for letting small businesses reopen to find millions of solutions for the millions of problems. Every industry will be impacted with unemployment over 20% but capital injections into small business will lead us out again.  

 

How is your company tackling the COVID-19 outbreak?

Safety is our first concern, and several weeks before any municipal restrictions were announced, we formed a task force called “Better Together” in order to focus on each property, the unique challenges with each, and our own office staff for a safe re-entry into an open economy. While sanitization and masks were the easy conclusions, our team also researched and invested in virus-killing UV lights, security enforcement of social distancing, forced flow for pedestrian traffic, and an enhanced code of conduct such that every guest feels welcome.   

 

What are North American Properties’ expectations in Atlanta toward 2021?

Innovate and differentiate. There are great assets with unrealized potential that may or may not trade at a discount the market wants but have ample return to invest at values that are still accretive to opportunistic investors. The capital stockpile in the market will be rewarded by smart buys sooner rather than cheap buys later.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:https://www.naproperties.com/leaders/tim-perry/

 

 

Spotlight On: Randy Hall, President & CEO, Batson-Cook Construction

Spotlight On: Randy Hall, President & CEO, Batson-Cook Construction

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020 — Despite the prevalent challenges of construction costs and a depleted talent pool, Atlanta continues to showcase growth and a business-friendly environment for construction players. In an interview with Invest:Atlanta, Randy Hall, President and CEO of Batson-Cook Construction, talks about how his company is thriving in the market and tackling the issues the sector faces.

 

 

How did Batson-Cook’s perform in 2019?

We have been in the Atlanta area for six decades. 2019 was a good year for Batson-Cook.    We are approaching $700 million in revenues as a company and exceeded our business expectations in 2019. We launched several construction projects across the Southeast in 2019 and some new ones in 2020. The most prominent to break ground is Emory University’s Winship at Midtown cancer facility. We work for all the healthcare systems around town, from Northside Emory, Piedmont, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, to name a few. Historically, half of our business is in healthcare, the other half is in commercial construction. We are primarily a Southeastern-based contracting firm; however, in 2019 we opened an office in Dallas and we are growing our presence there. Even through the pandemic, new work continues to be widespread. We have received several new project awards through the second quarter of 2020.

 

How are construction companies tapping into the demographic and economic synergies of the Southeast region?

We follow the demographics in the areas where our offices are located. Each city has its own personality and needs. Batson-Cook does its best to be flexible and agile to serve those needs by offering a diverse suite of services and expertise across the Southeast. The Southeast still enjoys constant migration flows from inhabitants in the Northeast and the West Coast. Of our seven offices, Atlanta is by far the largest in terms of revenue. Atlanta’s airport and its pro-business environment are major catalysts for continued growth in Atlanta.

 

How are construction companies and academic institutions collaborating to cater to talent needs?

Our recruiting team dedicates a significant amount of time to interactions with 10 different academic institutions. We intensely promote internships at different levels in collaboration with college institutions that have construction programs. We employ between 40 and 50 interns each summer and 30-40 year round. We are delighted with our relationship with higher education institutions across the state of Georgia. Kennesaw State, Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern are the best recruiting grounds for talented young people who share our core corporate values. Historically, more than 90 percent of our interns accept our job offers at the end of their internship.

 

How are you navigating the prevalent challenges the construction industry faces?

Most of the work that Batson-Cook does involves a significant portion of pre-construction. We understand how to manage the construction process and by getting involved early in the design phase, we can maximize the opportunity to complete a project as economically for our clients as possible. An uptick in construction costs impacts the entire value chain. We are constantly looking for better ways to build so owners can achieve what they are looking for at the lowest cost possible. 

 

We are proud to work in an industry that is considered essential in the United States. All our projects have continued to work successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because our industry continues to suffer from a shortage of qualified labor, we are hopeful that unemployed workers will find the construction industry to be a viable alternative to their previous place of work.

 

What is your outlook toward 2021?

Even though the hospitality market has been dramatically impacted by COVID-19, more so than the other spaces that we work in, we still see opportunities for hospitality. Healthcare systems continue to expand and grow; however, funds are being shifted from capital expenditure budgets to operations. We are optimistic that impacts to the healthcare industry due to the pandemic will not dramatically impact future construction work. 

 

To learn more, visit: http://www.batson-cook.com/