Recent News

  • Apr

Tessa Tanis Joins Ram Realty Advisors in Durham, NC Office

April 24, 2018

April 24, 2018

Tessa Tannis, Ram Realty AdvisorsDURHAM, NC – Ram Realty Advisors, a leading developer and real estate investment manager throughout the Southeast, is pleased to announce a key new hire: Tessa Tanis joined the firm’s Durham office as the Director of Investor Relations. Tessa comes to Ram with over 17 years of experience and will participate in all aspects of real estate private equity marketing, including capital formation and investor relations.  She will report to Susan Carter, Executive Vice President of Investment Strategy.

“I am excited to join the talented, energetic team at Ram, and to work closely with both the investment team and our institutional partners.  I look forward to expanding the firm’s investor base and sharing Ram’s impressive track record and 40-year history of success.”

Immediately prior to joining Ram, Tessa was a Portfolio Manager at the North Carolina Retirement System (NCRS), responsible for managing the pension plan’s real estate investments.  Prior to her tenure at NCRS, she served in a variety of investment, asset management, development, and institutional reporting roles at two publicly traded REITs – Highwoods Properties and Developers Diversified Realty.  Tessa has a unique educational background, particularly for the IR position, as she has a B.S. in Public Relations and an M.S. in Accounting, both from Kent State University.  She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA).

“We’re committed to nurturing and growing our institutional relationships.  Tessa and Susan will be working together to combine their experience, knowledge, and relationships to assist in that effort,” said Casey Cummings, Ram’s Chief Executive Officer. “Tessa has a solid track record in many aspects of the real estate industry, as well as a strong working knowledge of the markets where we are active. We’re pleased to have her on the team.”


Founded in 1978, Ram Realty Advisors is an affiliated group of companies and partnerships that acquire and develop retail, multifamily, and mixed-use properties in select high-growth markets in the Southeast.  The company capitalizes investments primarily with Ram-sponsored discretionary private equity funds.  Since 1996, the company has deployed in excess of $2.5 billion of capital. Ram is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Durham, North Carolina.



Kelly Owens
Alchemy Communications Group
office: 561.935.9953 x. 101
mobile: 561.222.4958

  • Apr

With Earth Fare, Ulta and Five Below, Oldsmar’s Woodlands Square was rebuilt to withstand the retail apocalypse

April 16, 2018

April 16, 2018

By Ashley Gurbal Kritzer via Tampa Bay Business Journal

For all of the doom and gloom surrounding brick-and-mortar retail, Woodlands Square in Oldsmar had never suffered too badly.
The 315,000-square-foot shopping center did struggle with some vacancy in the years following the Great Recession, but its owner, Palm Beach Gardens-based Ram Realty Advisors, was pleased with the property.

“I would say that this property recovered pretty nicely even prior to redevelopment,” said Jonathan Porter, Ram’s vice president of asset management and finance.

Still, with the center’s size and position off Tampa Road, Ram felt it could be doing even better. In late 2016, the group kicked off a massive redevelopment effort that brought in new anchor tenants and restaurants and renovated existing portions of the center. A two-way ingress and egress, at the Tampa Road light, was also added to improve access.

What made the redevelopment doable was a lineup of retailers that are in growth mode, even in an era of declining sales and shuttering storefronts. Specialty grocer Earth Fare’s commitment to the center was pivotal for the redevelopment, Porter said; Ulta Beauty drives foot traffic with an in-store salon and aisles of makeup to swatch and sample. Teen discount chain Five Below, where items are all $5 or less, has also succeeded in reeling in shoppers.

Restaurants were a big component of the redevelopment. The proprietors of Craft Street Kitchen, which is already in the center, opened Shaker n Peel, a new concept in the center. Green Market Café, Ruby Tuesday and Eve’s Family Restaurant also remain in the center.

Market timing was also a factor; Ram was comfortable with the spread between the cost of the redevelopment and the returns it could earn on rental rates, Porter said.

That spread, along with the fact that the property is held in a closed-end fund, means that Ram will likely consider selling the property in the months ahead.

“I would like to say we will be owning this thing five years from now because I think the best days are ahead of it,” he said.

Ram didn’t disclose the overall investment in the redevelopment, but renovating the center’s movie theater, AMC 20, represents $7 million alone — costs that the landlord and tenant shared.

“When you have tenants willing to put up their own capital and renovate, you know you’re doing something right,” Porter said.

Ulta, Porter said, isn’t just a win in terms of driving shoppers to the center. Building the new, stand-alone store in the middle of the parking lot — an expansive area that “looked like multiple football fields” — helped bring the center together visually. “It really connected the two sides and made it feel more like one center,” he said.

  • Apr

Woodlands Square Completes Redevelopment with New Tenants, Strong Anchor Mix, and More

April 9, 2018

Woodland-Square-11418 (002)_Page_05

April 9, 2018

OLDSMAR, FL — Less than two years ago, the pressing questions in Oldsmar were what grocery store planned to open at Woodlands Square and what other changes might the owners make as part of the center’s major redevelopment?

After demolishing functionally obsolete space near the back of the center to make way for new tenants and better traffic flow, today the 315,000 SF center is home to a diverse line-up of major anchor tenants.  What’s new?

  • The 24,000 SF specialty organic and natural foods grocer, Earth Fare, adding a vital component to the diverse tenant mix
  • A $7 million renovation and long-term lease extension of the existing AMC Theatre that features plush power-recliner seating, an IMAX theatre, online ticketing, reserved seating, and renovated concession area
  • Backfilled the former Office Depot with the addition of PetSmart and Five Below
  • Constructed a free-standing Ulta cosmetics which further strengthens a retail anchor tenant draw that includes Beall’s, Marshall’s, and Dollar Tree
  • Shaker n Peel, a new restaurant concept owned and operated by the proprietor of the highly successful onsite Craft Street Kitchen, further solidifying an already eclectic restaurant component that includes Green Market Café, Ruby Tuesday, and long-time local favorite Eve’s Family Restaurant
  • New building facades, new signage throughout, roofing, paint, parking lots, parking lighting, landscaping, and awnings
  • A two-way ingress/egress drive via the Tampa Road signalized intersection

“Whether through new construction, lease extensions, lease amendments, or tenant relocations, we touched roughly 270,000 square feet — roughly 85 percent — at Woodlands as part of this extensive redevelopment,” says Jonathan Porter, VP-Asset Management & Finance for Ram Realty Advisors, the property owner. “The tenant mix takes advantage of our prime location; we are 96 percent occupied and we believe it is because of our commitment to transformative redevelopment of a center that was first constructed in 1987.

“Not only did we bring in new tenants that will help increase traffic and drive sales for the balance of the center, but we spent time and effort to take care of our existing tenancy, assuring residents of Oldsmar and the surrounding communities of a great destination for entertainment, dining, shopping, personal services, and more.”

“We can’t think of a better location in the area for us than Woodlands Square,” said Frank Scorpiniti, president and CEO of Earth Fare. “Oldsmar shoppers have welcomed us with open arms, and we’ve been honored to bring to them the broadest assortment of clean, healthy foods available anywhere these past several months. We look forward to continuing to serve our new friends and neighbors.”

Woodland Square is also home to other national tenants Anytime Fitness, Coast Dental, Fantastic Sam’s, Kids Park, Pinot’s Palette, and Salon Lofts. Local tenants include Janice Brand DDS, T&T Nails, Perfections Hair Salon, My Greek Corner, Richard’s Foodporium, Eve’s Florist, and Ruth Fashions.

Located 20 minutes northwest of downtown Tampa, in Pinellas County (the most popular destination on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico), this prime location boasts 78,000 VPD at the Tampa Road and Curlew Road intersection, and excellent target demographics for its tenants with an average household income of $81,199 and 73,548 residents (with projected growth of 3% by 2022) in a three-mile radius, and daytime employment of 34,167.


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Founded in 1978, Ram Realty Advisors is an affiliated group of companies and partnerships that acquire and develop retail, multifamily, and mixed-use properties in select high-growth markets in the Southeast. The company capitalizes investments primarily with Ram-sponsored discretionary private equity funds. Since 1996, the company has deployed in excess of $2.5 billion of capital. Ram is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Durham, North Carolina.

Ram contact:

Jonathan Porter
Ram Realty Advisors
office: 561.282.4628

Media contact:

Kelly Owens
Alchemy Communications Group
office: 561.935.9953 x.101
mobile: 561.222.4958

  • Mar

Ram Realty Advisors Strengthens Investment Management Team: Susan Swindell Carter Joins Ram as Executive Vice President of Investment Strategy

March 28, 2018

March 28, 2017

Susan Swindell Carter, Ram Realty AdvisorsCHAPEL HILL, NC – Susan Swindell Carter has joined Ram Realty Advisors as Executive Vice President, Investment Strategy. As part of the senior leadership team, she will immediately become a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. Her primary responsibility includes providing strategic direction for Ram’s investment strategy; Ms. Carter has been working with Ram’s asset management and investment teams as a consultant since early 2016.  She will be based in Chapel Hill, N.C. and will help the firm’s continued growth and expansion in North Carolina.

In conjunction with the recent appointment, Susan said: “I am looking forward to helping Ram’s continued development as an active real estate investor in the Southeast.  After more than two decades on the pension and endowment side, the time was right for me to join a firm with the right combination of entrepreneurial spirit and institutional process.”

Casey Cummings, Ram’s CEO, commented: “Our entire team is excited about Susan’s full-time role and deep involvement with investment strategy and risk analysis.  Her extensive experience as an institutional investor is invaluable as we continue to strengthen our investment management platform.  Our partners will see immediate value as Susan takes a leadership role in capital formation and investor relations.”

Prior to joining Ram, Ms. Carter was CEO of The Eastport Group, a real estate consulting firm she founded. She also served as the first Director of Real Estate for the North Carolina Retirement System (NCRS), where she created policy and built a successful $7 billion real estate portfolio. She started her investment career with Duke Management Company (DUMAC) where she served as the Director of Fixed Income and also of Real Estate. She serves as a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and is a past board member for Pension Real Estate Association (PREA).

About Ram:

Ram Realty Advisors (RRA) is an affiliate of Ram Realty Services, a fully integrated acquirer, developer and manager of retail and multifamily properties throughout the Southeast.  RRA is a registered investment advisor and invests primarily through a series of private equity real estate funds on behalf of institutions and high net worth families.  Since 1996, the Company has deployed in excess of $2.5 billion of capital.  Ram and its predecessor entities have been continuously investing in real estate since 1978.  The Company is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with offices in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Charlotte, NC.  More information can be found at


Ram Contact:
Jennifer S. Stull
Managing Director, Asset Management
O: 561-282-4609

Media Contact:
Kelly Owens
Alchemy Communications Group
O: 561.935.9953 x.101
M: 561.222.4958

  • Jan


January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018

ASHEVILLE, NC – Earth Fare, the authentic specialty organic and natural foods grocery store, proudly announces that it will bring healthier choices to Palm Beach Gardens when it opens this spring on PGA Boulevard, just west of Military Trail. The 24,000 square-foot store will be part of the Main Street at Midtown shopping center, located at 4801 PGA Boulevard. Earth Fare currently operates 46 stores in ten states, including eight locations across Florida.

“Earth Fare is the perfect addition to PGA Boulevard, which is one of the prominent east-west thoroughfares in Palm Beach County.  We wanted a specialty grocer that was going to respond to the wants and needs of the strong demographic profile of the surrounding residential communities,” said Jonathan Porter, Vice President and Asset Manager for Ram Realty Advisors.  “We couldn’t be happier to welcome our second Earth Fare development into our Ram-affiliated projects, and are especially excited that this store will be just steps away from our main corporate office.”

Earth Fare has established itself as a leader in the healthy foods grocery industry for more than 40 years by continually developing innovative programs and campaigns that make it easier for shoppers to take back control of their health through their food choices. Since its founding in 1975, Earth Fare has maintained a unique Food Philosophy that informs every product offered in the store. This Food Philosophy is exemplified by a rigorous set of Quality Standards, which ensures that all products sold are free of high fructose corn syrup, artificial fats and trans-fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, and are never administered antibiotics or growth hormones. These ingredients and additives are outlined on Earth Fare’s pioneering Boot List.  Furthering this commitment to helping shoppers live healthier, happier, longer lives, Earth Fare last year offered to share its Boot List with any grocer interested in making the same commitment to transparency to its shoppers.

In addition, Earth Fare’s 750+ private brand products are all sourced using only non-GMO ingredients, and new products are being added to the shelves each day. This year, Earth Fare launched The Clean Plate, a quarterly in-store magazine that provides shoppers with scientifically backed information about why what we eat matters.

“Americans everywhere deserve a place where they can shop confidently, knowing that every product in their cart is free from harmful additives that we know are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.” said Earth Fare president and CEO Frank Scorpiniti. “We are very proud to bring our unparalleled commitment to helping our shoppers live longer, healthier, happier lives to the Palm Beach Gardens community.”

Beyond groceries, the new store will also feature Earth Fare’s Heirloom Organic Juice Bar, which features 100% Certified Organic coffees, smoothies, and juices, including custom blends as well as convenient freshly prepared bottles for the person on-the-go. Shoppers will also find a wide variety of organic choices at Palm Beach Gardens Kitchen, featuring ready-to-go and prepared foods including the salad bar, hot foods bar, pizza station, sandwich counter, and conveniently packaged meals-on-the-go. Shoppers can enjoy a homemade meal without the work, whether dining in the indoor and outdoor 54-seat café with free Wi-Fi or taking it home.

Earth Fare will be the new anchor tenant of Main Street at Midtown, a 47-acre development that encompasses more than 96,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and office space together with 225 luxury condominiums, a 500-seat cultural center, and a 300-seat banquet hall.

Learn more about Earth Fare’s fresh approach to improving lives through a healthier lifestyle at


Founded in 1975 in Asheville, North Carolina, Earth Fare is one of the largest natural and organic food retailers in the country, with 46 locations across 10 states in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Their full-service philosophy incorporates the highest food Quality Standards in the industry with compelling value, friendly and knowledgeable service, and a superior shopping experience. It’s a philosophy that makes it easy to live a healthier lifestyle, every day.

Live Longer with Earth Fare®


Ram is an affiliated group of companies and partnerships that acquire, develop, manage and finance retail and multifamily properties in the Southeast. The group also selectively provides equity and acquires distressed debt. Since 1996 the Company has deployed in excess of $2.5 billion of capital.

  • Jan

Ram Realty sells Raleigh apartments

January 16, 2017

By Amanda Hoyle via TBJ

A Florida real estate investment firm that’s actively been buying, selling and developing new properties across the Triangle the past year has sold its ownership in one of its largest properties in the Raleigh, the Apartments of Stonehenge on Creedmoor Road.

Real estate sources confirm that Chicago real estate investment firm Magnolia Capital has acquired from Ram Realty Services of Florida the 452-unit Stonehenge apartment community at a price of $56.7 million, or about $125,500 per unit. The deal will likely rank among the largest commercial real estate property sales in 2017.

Max Peek, CEO and managing principal of Magnolia Capital, stated in a release about the deal that he plans to continue renovations to the property started by Ram Realty in 2012. “The Apartments of Stonehenge represented an opportunity to invest in an attractive asset in a premier location,” Peek said in the release. “We have a high level of conviction in the Raleigh market going forward, and are excited to implement our business plan to further improve and modernize this community for the benefit of our residents.” Stonehenge is Magnolia Capital’s debut in the Raleigh market

The property was about 94 percent occupied at closing, according to the release.

Ram Realty had acquired Apartments of Stonehenge in 2012 for $40.2 million. Since that time it implemented about $2.5 million in improvements to the property, including an upgrade and rebranding of a 96-unit section with superior finishes now called The Reserve at Stonehenge.

Executive Voice: Ram Realty’s Casey Cummings continues aggressive push into North Carolina

The 46.6 acre property is located at 7303 Hihenge Court near the intersection of Creedmoor Road and Stonehenge Drive. It includes a two-story clubhouse with fitness center, and indoor basketball and racquetball court, three swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, a playground, fire pit, business center, and resident lounge with demo kitchen.

The HFF investment sales team representing the Ram in the deal was led by Jeff GlennJustin Good and Allan Lynch, all from the HFF Carolinas’ Raleigh office.

  • Dec

Chapel Hill’s 140 West Franklin building sold

December 5, 2016

By Amanda Hoyle via Triangle Business Journal

The Florida-based developer of 140 West Franklin mixed-use building project that opened in 2013 in Chapel Hill has sold its last ownership in the commercial components of the building.

Ram Realty Services sold the building, according to county records, for nearly $9.9 million to a private equity firm affiliated with Charlotte-based Asana Partners. Asana Partners also acquired from Ram its ownership of the Design Center of the Carolinas in Charlotte, a deal valued at nearly $42 million.

In Chapel Hill, Asana’s acquisition includes the 26,000 square feet of ground floor retail and two levels of underground parking within the 8-story mixed-use building. The property also has 140 luxury condominiums (including 18 affording housing units) that were not included in the sale and a public plaza home to Exhale, a sculptural centerpiece that serves as a backdrop for local events. The project’s long-term ground lease with the town for the 1.73-acre lot has been transferred to the 140 West Franklin Condominium Association.

Ram CEO Casey Cummings in a statement about the deal said the project has motivated his firm to pursue other real estate opportunities in the Triangle. “140 West Franklin is the culmination of a decade of patience, careful capital management, and a focus on quality execution,” he stated. “We worked closely with the town and our institutional partners during the global financial crisis, and we’re delighted to have played a role in the continuing evolution of downtown Chapel Hill.”

In the Triangle, Ram Realty Services acquired in August the Village Plaza retail building in Chapel Hill and also owns the Apartments of Stonehenge in Raleigh and Pavilion East property in Durham, where it is building a 263-unit luxury apartment community on Erwin Road. The new apartments are expected to open in summer 2017.

  • Dec

There’s a major new mixed-use development headed to South End

December 2, 2016

By Ely Portillo via The Charlotte Observer

When Florida-based Ram Realty Services sold the Design Center of the Carolinas for $42.7 million earlier this week, the company hung on to three acres of property around the South End center’s buildings.

Now, Ram Realty CEO Casey Cummings says the firm is focused on building a new, mixed-use development on the site, much of which is currently occupied by surface parking lots.

“Surface parking lots are really a waste of a valuable resource” in a dense, urban corridor, Cummings said. The land is along Camden Street, between Worthington Avenue and West Boulevard.

Asana Partners, the Charlotte-based company that bought the Design Center buildings, plans to convert much of the square footage to new shops and restaurants. Combined with the new Ram Realty development and other ongoing projects nearby, that whole stretch of South End will soon look much different.

Cummings, the Ram Realty CEO, said he hopes to start construction on the new mixed-use development in the second half of 2017. The details aren’t finalized, but a previously announced 150-room hotel developed in partnership with West Elm will be a key component of the project.

“We’re now turning to that,” Cummings said.

One reason the development is possible now: A new, 520-space parking deck for the Design Center is scheduled for completion in January. The parking deck was included in Asana’s purchase. That will free up the surface parking lots owned by Ram Realty, as well as provide additional parking for future development.

Cummings said the new development will include up to 300 units of multifamily housing, likely built in phases. The development will include a smaller amount of retail, perhaps 20,000 square feet, including a restaurant integrated into the hotel.

The office portion of the development will include “design-oriented” space and possibly some co-working locations, Cummings said. He pointed to 1616 Center, the five-story office building a block away by Beacon Partners, as a similar example of what his firm is trying to do.

“We’re likely going to do something of that scale, but more integrated into the mixed-use environment rather than a free-standing office building,” said Cummings.

He said Ram Realty will make sure the new development is integrated well with the existing historic structures and nearby mills of South End.

“In 50 years, it will look like it’s always been there,” said Cummings. The company is looking for more multifamily and mixed-use opportunities in Charlotte.

The Design Center used to be the Nebel Knitting Mill, which opened in 1927. The facility closed for good in 1989, and sat vacant until Tony Pressley of MECA acquired it in 1996 and turned it into creative office space.

“Development of The Design Center of the Carolinas was a labor of love for the entire MECA team and a catalyst for development in South End,” said Rob Pressley, president of Coldwell Banker Commercial MECA. Ram Realty bought the facility in 2007.

Now, Cummings said, the buildings are ready for their next phase.

“It’s really time for them to have another life,” he said.

  • Sep

West Elm launching hotel in South End

September 26, 2016

By Ely Portillo via Charlotte Observer

West Elm – the furniture store – is launching a hotel in Charlotte.

Part of a national launch of boutique hotels, the company is coming to the Design Center of the Carolinas, in South End on Camden Road. West Elm is also launching hotels in Savannah, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Detroit. They’ll open in late 2018.

The Charlotte hotel will include 150 rooms, a rooftop pool, meeting space, a restaurant, lounge and bar. A “community-inspired, locally sourced event” will be held at the hotel weekly, open to both local residents and hotel guests.

Ram Real Estate, which owns the Design Center, said the hotel will be new construction on the site. West Elm operates a furniture and home furnishings store nearby, in the Metropolitan complex.

“We’re excited that West Elm Hotel shares our vision for South End,” said Casey Cummings, Ram CEO, in a statement. “Our commitment to Charlotte has never been stronger and we look forward to collaborating with the entire West Elm team.”
The South End hotel will join a growing lineup of hotels under development outside of uptown but near center city. Kimpton is building a 128-room hotel on Worthington Avenue in Dilworth, and a 120-room hotel is planned at Kingston Avenue and South Tryon.

Opening a chain of hotels might seem like an odd move for a furniture seller. But West Elm said it’s interested in moving beyond furniture sales into a new market. The hotels will feature local design elements and cuisine, as well as locally commissioned artwork in each guest room and common areas. The furnishings and artwork will be available for guests to buy online as well.

West Elm said it was attracted to the warehouses, food trucks and local businesses in South End.

“After twenty-six consecutive quarters of double-digit comparative growth, including our successful entry into the commercial furnishings market with West Elm Workspace, we’ve created an active bond with our customers that can extend beyond home and work,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm, in a statement. “By adapting the framework design of each hotel to reflect the mood and identity of its host city, we will continue to engage the adventurous spirit of our customers as they follow us to our next level of hospitality.”

Brooklyn-based West Elm is partnering with hotel operator DDK, which oversees a portfolio of 70 properties, on the West Elm Hotels project.

“There is a growing desire among modern travelers to immerse themselves in the place they are visiting. They want a boutique experience, and expect great, reliable service that caters to their needs,” said David Bowd, co-founder of DDK. “Our general managers will serve as innkeepers, and West Elm Hotels will focus on making real community connections for visitors and residents alike.”

  • Sep

Multifamily Forecast: Stormy or Calm Seas

September 22, 2016

via DBR

Florida’s multifamily developers are shrinking units, inflating amenities and maneuvering around traditionally accepted parking requirements to keep rents high and building costs down in today’s pricey construction market.

“Units will get smaller,” said William Hamilton, executive vice president of Boston-based Winthrop Management. “And they have to be sexy.”

The major players shaping Florida’s multifamily arena gathered Thursday to forecast what’s in store for the rental realm over the next year. About 700 attendees were expected at the fifth annual Florida Multifamily Summit in Hollywood.

With construction costs at an all-time high and thousands of apartments under construction in South Florida, Art Falcone said lenders are pulling back in response. He is CEO and chairman of the Falcone Group and a principal of Miami Worldcenter Associates, which is developing a sprawling mixed-use project in downtown Miami.

“I will tell you that capital providers have pulled back dramatically so, on the condo side, that is drying up very quickly,” he said.

But the spigot is not completely off. Coincidentally, Boca Raton-based Banyan Commercial Capital LLC on Thursday announced the closing of a $38.8 million construction loan for the 250-unit Aura Seaside on the Intracoastal Waterway at 1400 Dixie Highway in Lantana by a subsidiary of Dallas-based Trinsic Residential Group L.P. The loan came from a bank group led by TD Bank N.A.

Banyan principal Michael Brown said the challenge in securing the loan was the timing. “Most construction lenders have reached their multifamily quotas for the cycle,” he said in a news release.

The statewide rental market, however, shows no signs of overbuilding, said Casey Cummings, CEO of Palm Beach Gardens-based Ram Realty Services. Most of the homes are under development in response to demand. Overall occupancy rates, especially in South Florida downtown markets, now stand at 95 percent to 96 percent, Cummings said.

While occupancy rates prove apartment demand is strong, rental growth is expected to slow over the next year, he said. Rents could rise 2 percent to 3 percent rather than the 5 percent to 8 percent annual hike seen over the last couple of years.

Peaking rental rates have catalyzed vigorous investment in South Florida’s apartment communities. Investors have poured nearly $4 billion into Miami-Dade County’s multifamily market over the last 12 months.

“Only recently did apartments become the darling of institutional capital,” Cummings said. “It wasn’t like that 15 years ago. It was office buildings and shopping centers. It feels good to be in this spot.”

The buyer pool for completed apartment assets has shrunk, however. Cummings characterized the next year as a “light chop with eight knots out of the east” in response to the title of the panel, “Stormy Water or Calm Seas?”

Falcone said South Florida is considered a top-tier market around the world.

“We’ll continue to be the safety deposit box for the world,” he said.