Recent News

  • Sep
    1

Rising to New Challenges – Excerpt

September 1, 2008

Rising to New Challenges – Excerpt
September 2008
Carl Cronan – Real Estate Florida

The question was put to Casey Cummings in front of thousands of his peers during the International Council of Shopping Centers’ 2008 Florida Conference on Aug. 18: What makes for a mixed-use development? The president and chief investment officer of Ram Realty Services in Palm Beach Gardens answered from several different facets.

For one thing, he told the audience in the crowded ballroom at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee that few projects in rural areas or third-tier markets truly qualify as mixed use, no matter how much they may tout themselves. With the economic downturn affecting retailers’ expansion plans, he and other speakers observed, no one wants to wait anymore for a customer base to catch up to store openings.

“Those days are over, which frankly I think is positive,” Cummings says. “The newer mixed-use projects will be focused on the A sites in the A markets. They’re going to require a significant amount of density, preferably close to mass transit. Just by their nature, they need a certain level of intensity to work.”

Cummings knows first hand what’s happening on the mixed-use development front. Ram Realty is currently promoting Sheridan Station, a $500-million project in Hollywood that will combine office, retail, multifamily, hotel and parking space on 40 acres flanked by Interstate 95 and the Tri-Rail commuter line. An elaborate model of the project, complete with lights and a moving train, was on display at the ICSC conference.

Sheridan Station will eventually include a total of 300,000 sf of retail, 245,000 sf of office, at least 1,000 living units, a 150-room hotel and parking for 2,500 vehicles, of which 800 will be made available to Tri-Rail riders in Broward County. The first phase of construction involves a 120,000 sf office building that Ram Realty expects to generate about 400 jobs, ultimately growing to more than 1,000 employees.

Cummings, whose company has experience with other mixed-use projects around the country including Midtown in Palm Beach Gardens and Broadway Promenade in Sarasota, says other components are increasingly required for such developments besides living and shopping space. “I suspect we’ll see a healthy balance of those mixes going forward,” he says.
Three Or More Components Needed
While Sheridan Station touts four distinct commercial components (five, counting its planned parking structures), observers say most projects being dubbed mixed use seem content to stick with two. For example, a high-rise office or condominium/apartment development might promote itself as “mixed use” because it has a relatively small amount of retail space on its ground floor that might be intended more as an amenity for residents.

“If you have an office building with retail in the ground floor, it’s still an office building”, remarks John Crossman, president of Orlando-based Crossman & Co. and an active member of ICSC. He believes mixed-use projects should have three or more components in order to truly make that claim, either in marketing materials or on a sign marking a future development site.

Crossman, whose firm handles leasing and marketing for several mixed-use developments, says combining components and building vertically is the way Florida has to go now that available land is becoming scarce and redevelopment of existing sites is becoming more of a necessity. For example, Sheridan Station’s site used to be a mobile home park and rail transit station, but a giant water tower will be the only common link between that project’s past and future, along with a house built from coral rock in the early 20th century that Ram Realty pledges to preserve. Crossman emphasizes that mixed-use projects can be far more complicated than traditional development, which can be difficult enough. “My favorite expression about mixed-use development is that it’s not for the faint of wallet,” he says. “It’s something people talk about a lot, yet it’s very difficult to pull those projects off.”

While numerous projects purporting to be mixed use dot Florida’s commercial landscape, few are more ambitious or visible than Metropolitan Miami, a $1-billion project under way in Downtown Miami. The project consists of two major pieces: Met 1, a 40-story, L-shaped tower with 447 luxury condo units and retail/restaurant space on the ground floor; and Met 2, a 47-story structure containing 750,000 sf of class A office space and 358 luxury hotel rooms bearing the JW Marriott brand.

Metropolitan Miami will have 240,000 sf of combined retail space in both buildings, with tenants ranging from a supermarket and steak house to a fitness center and movie theater, according to Tom Weller, vice president with MDM Development. Parking is also planned on site for up to 4,000 cars, giving it an advantage over other urban projects in South Florida, he says.

“We’re filling a real need here in the core business district,” Weller says. “Even though we have different challenges within the project, each (component) feeds off the synergy of the other and the project as a whole.” White Met 2 isn’t scheduled to open until 2010; the project is already showing success from an office-leasing standpoint. Miami-based law powerhouse Greenberg Traurig announced in July that it would occupy 150,000 sf in the new building after its current lease at nearby 1221 Brickell expires. There are also reports in late summer that accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, now at Wachovia Financial Center, is considering leasing 50,000 sf though Weller wouldn’t confirm any names of tenant prospects.

From the condo sales side, Weller says all but 20 living units have been sold in the completed Met 1, with those under contract proceeding to closing and its first residents now moving in. Those first occupants will make a huge difference in attracting additional retail tenants, he says, adding, “It’s very hard to attract people when you’re weaving your way through construction.”

Because the project started before the commercial credit crisis became apparent last year, Weller says Metropolitan Miami hasn’t endured the same struggles now experienced by other mixed-use developers. “From a financing standpoint, we have not encountered any problems moving forward because of the diversity of the project,” he says, noting that Bank of America and Wachovia Bank are involved in both segments.
Initial Components Build Momentum
Other mixed us projects around the sate appear too be succeeding with their first components before the others are built. Tampa-based McKibbon Hotel Management Inc. opened two planned hotels this summer at Avion Park at Westshore, a 19-acre development adjacent to Tampa International Airport that will include 21,000 sf of retail and four restaurant outparcels.

  • Sep
    1

What Is Your Real Estate Worth? Healthy and not-so-healthy retailers scrub their portfolios

September 1, 2008

What Is Your Real Estate Worth? Healthy and not-so-healthy retailers scrub their portfolios
September 2008
Chain Store Age
Excerpt

Life After The Home Depot

A year ago this month, The Home Depot announced it was closing its entire Landscape Supply chain (which consisted of 11 stores in Texas and Georgia). A few months later, in February 2008, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Ram Realty bought all 11 stores for $22 million.

Today, Ram is actively moving on the sites. “Our approach to the Home Depot Landscape Supply portfolio included a full analysis of each property to determine the highest and best use going forward,” said Casey Cummings, president of Ram. “In some cases, that use is retail. For others, it is not. We have created a strategy for each asset, several of which merely involved an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the real estate.”

About half the locations will require development and renovation work, either by Ram or by a new owner. “Our strategy is flexible,” said Cummings.

  • Sep
    1

LA Fitness Joins Tenant Roster at Springs Plaza

September 1, 2008

LA Fitness Joins Tenant Roster at Springs Plaza
September 2008
Florida Commerciall Properties – In The News: South Florida

Sales and Leases

Bonita Springs – LA Fitness has joined the tenant roster at Ram Development’s Springs Plaza shopping center in Bonita Springs. Located at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 41 and Bonita Beach road, the fitness center will occupy 45,000 square feet of newly constructed space. Springs Plaza is a 199,992-square-foot shopping center built in the late 1970s. Other tenants include Beall’s Outlet and Sweet Bay Supermarket. Ram recently constructed a new façade, reconfigured the property and made other substantial modifications.

  • Sep
    1

Goodwill Store opens at Central Plaza

September 1, 2008

Goodwill Store opens at Central Plaza
September 2008
Florida Commercial Properties – In The News: Tampa Bay Area

St. Petersburg – A 29,000-square-foot Goodwill store has opened up at Central Plaza shopping center in St. Petersburg. Central Plaza is a 74,600-square-foot shopping center that includes tenants such as Payless Shoes, Family Dollar, Foot Locker, CitiTrends and LA Fashions. The space is located at the northeast corner of 34th Street North and Central Avenue.

With the addition of the new store, the shopping center, which is owned by Ram Development, is now 100 percent occupied.

  • Sep
    1

Sheridan Station Designed as Transit Village for Broward County, Florida

September 1, 2008

Sheridan Station Designed as Transit Village for Broward County, Florida
September 2008
Urban Land – September 2008

It began in 2003 with a request for proposals from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to redevelop its Tri-Rail park-and-ride lot in Hollywood as a transit-oriented development (TOD). Miami’s Pinnacle Housing Group, a workforce housing developer, got the nod with a plan for 450 affordable apartments and a charter school.

“But when we showed the plan to the city, they said something developers rarely hear from a municipality,” recalls Pinnacle partner Michael Wohl. “They said, “No, we want a larger project.”

T. Neil Fritz, Hollywood’s downtown and corridor redevelopment director, explained that the city’s 2001 master plan envisioned a comprehensive transit village around the Tri-Rail station and suggested that Pinnacle buy two adjacent mobile-home parks in order to obtain the additional space needed for such a project. Pinnacle agreed, then formed a joint venture with RAM Development Company of Fort Lauderdale, a national developer of commercial and multi-family properties.

The result will be Broward County’s first authentic TOD, due to break ground early next year. At buildout, the $500 million, 40-acre Sheridan Station will provide 1,050 residential units, 300,000 square feet (27,000 sq m) of retail and restaurant space, 299,000 sf (27,800 sq m) of office space, a 150-room hotel, a 793-space parking garage to serve the Tri-Rail station, and a six-acre live oak hammock that developers will donate to the city for use as a public park. The project is expected to generate the equivalent of 2,150 full-time jobs with at least an $80 million annual payroll, plus millions of dollars in new annual city and county tax revenues.

Developing the project has not always been smooth sailing, however. Completing the approval process took more than four years, and a few steps remain. “Though the TOD concept had broad support, some neighbors balked at its scope, fearing increased traffic, school congestion, and overbearing building profiles,” says Hugo Pacanins, RAM development manager.

The team responded with reduced building heights, statistics showing no negative impact on area schools, four detailed traffic engineering studies, commitments for major road improvements, and preservation of hundreds of mature live oaks and a historic house build of coral rock on the six-acre park parcel originally slated for townhomes. “We eliminated 550 residential units, accommodating neighborhood concerns and allowing for more office/retail space, which has stronger market demand and will have greater impact on the city’s tax base,” says Pacanins.

Twenty percent of all residential development at Sheridan Station will be workforce housing, distributed through each phase and exceeding the county’s 15 percent requirement, says Wohl, south Florida chair for ULI’s Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing. Phase 1 workforce housing in the project will be rental units.

Sheridan Station’s design team includes Cooper Carry Inc., Atlanta, master land planning; Wakefiled Beasley & Associates, Atlanta/Jacksonville, retail; Roger Fry & Associates Architects, Coconut Grove, Florida, residential; Stiles Corporation, Fort Lauderdale, office; and Witkin Hults Design Group, Hollywood, Florida, landscape architecture.

Witkin Hults has been assigned the task of visually integrating the diverse components to give the project a unified appearance. Hardscapes of concrete pavers in different sizes, patterns, and shades of color will give each building/entryway a distinctive profile while establishing a signature look for Sheridan Station’s overall exterior environment, says Juan Pacheco, senior project manager for Witkin Hults. Major water features defining the central plaza will include a 24-by-10-foot mirrored water wall and a 15-by-15 foot stainless steel landmark feature of interlocking S shapes sitting on an 800 square foot round water basin, he says. Native royal palms and street furniture will provide shaded rest areas. Walkways and bikeways will link all the project elements to the Tri-Rail station.

In keeping with the project’s pro-environment character – it is one of six Florida projects chosen by the U.S. Green Building Council for its leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Neighborhood Development pilot program – Witkin Hults worked closely with civil engineers Carter & Burgess of Fort Lauderdale to design a road through the live oak hammock that will preserve every single tree.

Michael Hammon, RAM’s chief development officer, hopes future TOD developers in Florida will have an easier time gaining entitlements.

“Given that TODs are in the public interest, regulatory agencies shouldn’t put the full burden for achieving land use changes on the developer and make them meet the same standards as for traditional development,” he says. “Elsewhere in the country, agencies are treating TOD developers more as partners, Florida isn’t quite there yet.”

Adds Debbie Orshefsky, Sheridan Station’s land use attorney, “Everyone, including FDOT, has known for years the Sheridan Street/I-95 interchange is dysfunctional. The developers will now construct almost $5 million in traffic improvements to address longstanding problems that would likely continue to exist if this project hadn’t come along.”

Despite the challenges of the past four years, Wohl says the team is thrilled with the final plan. “I think it will be a TOD model; it’s definitely the highest and best use of the land,” he says. “And with rising gas prices, it obviously couldn’t be happening at a better time.”

  • Sep
    1

Rising to New Challenges – Excerpt

September 1, 2008

Rising to New Challenges – Excerpt
September 2008
Carl Cronan – Real Estate Florida

The question was put to Casey Cummings in front of thousands of his peers during the International Council of Shopping Centers’ 2008 Florida Conference on Aug. 18: What makes for a mixed-use development? The president and chief investment officer of Ram Realty Services in Palm Beach Gardens answered from several different facets.

For one thing, he told the audience in the crowded ballroom at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee that few projects in rural areas or third-tier markets truly qualify as mixed use, no matter how much they may tout themselves. With the economic downturn affecting retailers’ expansion plans, he and other speakers observed, no one wants to wait anymore for a customer base to catch up to store openings.

“Those days are over, which frankly I think is positive,” Cummings says. “The newer mixed-use projects will be focused on the A sites in the A markets. They’re going to require a significant amount of density, preferably close to mass transit. Just by their nature, they need a certain level of intensity to work.”

  • Sep
    1

What Is Your Real Estate Worth? Healthy and not-so-healthy retailers scrub their portfolios

September 1, 2008

What Is Your Real Estate Worth? Healthy and not-so-healthy retailers scrub their portfolios
September 2008
Chain Store Age
Excerpt

Life After The Home Depot

A year ago this month, The Home Depot announced it was closing its entire Landscape Supply chain (which consisted of 11 stores in Texas and Georgia). A few months later, in February 2008, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Ram Realty bought all 11 stores for $22 million.

Today, Ram is actively moving on the sites. “Our approach to the Home Depot Landscape Supply portfolio included a full analysis of each property to determine the highest and best use going forward,” said Casey Cummings, president of Ram. “In some cases, that use is retail. For others, it is not. We have created a strategy for each asset, several of which merely involved an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the real estate.”

About half the locations will require development and renovation work, either by Ram or by a new owner. “Our strategy is flexible,” said Cummings.

  • Sep
    1

LA Fitness Joins Tenant Roster at Springs Plaza

September 1, 2008

September 2008
Florida Commerciall Properties – In The News: South Florida

Sales and Leases

Bonita Springs – LA Fitness has joined the tenant roster at Ram Development’s Springs Plaza shopping center in Bonita Springs. Located at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 41 and Bonita Beach road, the fitness center will occupy 45,000 square feet of newly constructed space. Springs Plaza is a 199,992-square-foot shopping center built in the late 1970s. Other tenants include Beall’s Outlet and Sweet Bay Supermarket. Ram recently constructed a new façade, reconfigured the property and made other substantial modifications.

  • Aug
    18

Naple Daily News / Southeast Florida Business Briefs

August 18, 2008

Naple Daily News / Southeast Florida Business Briefs
August 18, 2008
New Businesses

LA Fitness has opened a location at its Spring Plaza property, at the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs. LA Fitness is an anchor tenant occupying 45,000 square feet of newly constructed space at Spring Plaza, a 199,992-square-foot shopping center.

Founded in 1978, Palm Beach Gardens-based Ram is an affiliated group of companies comprised of Ram Development Co., a leader in retail, residential and mixed-use development and acquisition, and Ram Realty Services, a provider of residential and retail management and leasing services. Address: 8951 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs.

  • Aug
    16

Ram Sells Texas Property for $3M

August 16, 2008

Ram Sells Texas Property for $3M
August 16, 2008
Florida Real Estate Journal – In Brief

Palm Beach Gardens – Ram recently completed the sale of a property in Texas. The former 12,383sf Home Depot Landscape Supply Center with an outdoor landscape area of approximately 25,890sf was sold to North Texas Acquisition LLC of Fort Worth for $3.4 million.

Casey Cummings, president of Ram, and Mike Stevens of Steveco Commercial Real Estate Group LLC handled the transaction. The sale of this property was part of a portfolio of 11 similar sites acquired earlier this year.

The property is at 5301 S. Cooper St., Arlington, Texas.