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Why a Broker is a Property Manager’s Best Friend

Competition for Class A trophy office space is heating up in many markets, and Tampa, Florida is no exception. With properties vying to secure leases with best-in-class top-tier renters, property managers are pushing owners to create the most attractive buildings possible. However, some owners are more challenging about spending money, despite their goals to drive rents and increase occupancy. For these clients, it’s the property manager’s job to make them realize that in order to make money, you sometimes have to spend money.

How Property Managers and Brokers Benefit from Partnerships
One of the best things I have learned as a property manager is that when there’s a challenge in getting budget items like upgrades or new amenities approved, teaming up with a leasing broker can be a good idea. A leasing broker can help the owner to understand expenses because the broker is seen as the one who is generating direct revenue. Even when a broker and property manager work for different companies, they have a mutual goal of leasing up the building with a good roster of residents.

A broker and a property manager look at a building differently, and a broker can help a property manager to understand how the building shows to prospective renters. Residents talk to each other. If a building has operational issues, it’s going to get out to the market and potentially hurt the ability to lease-up the building.

Property managers should do consistent walk-throughs with their brokers, who can point out what a property manager might miss like common areas that are dirty, the minute details such as loose door handles, and amenities that aren’t up to par. Brokers and property managers should also consider vacant spaces. Should a space be left as a shell? Be somewhat built-out and ready for move-in? What are the needs of the market? At the very least, they should be clean and free from construction or building materials.  Together, they can approach an owner and make a recommendation that makes the space more attractive.

What Happens When Managers and Brokers Work Together
Brokers and property managers who don’t work together can cause real problems for the building owner. For example, a broker might set unrealistic expectations about the move-in timeline to secure a new resident. A property manager will know how long it will take for the space to be ready, so they must work together or else its possible that the start date might get pushed back, leading to an unhappy renter that’s barely into their lease.

Brokers can also help property managers brainstorm creative marketing and retention initiatives that won’t break the bank for the owner. Conversely, if the budget for these initiatives is too small, the broker can help persuade the owner to provide the capital for these items.

For large office buildings, property managers begin working on budgets over the summer and brokers should be an integral part of the discussion. It’s important to know what’s going on in the market and communicate the most up-to-date information. For example, construction costs can fluctuate, and resident improvement costs can rise from $30 PSF to $40 PSF on a year-over-year basis, which will impact your budget.

A broker will also have insider knowledge on what competing buildings are doing and investing in to stay top-of-mind. If a property down the street is investing millions in the renovation of their common areas, a property manager might want to budget in upgrades that would make their common areas comparable. While it’s easy for an owner to say no to a broker or a property manager, it’s harder when they come together as a team.

Each member of a building’s team from security to the engineers to the property manager to the leasing broker plays a critical role in the success of how the building is perceived in the market and how it’s run – all of which drives value for the owner.

Written by Julie Palmer-Nicholson, Director of Commercial Property Management at Franklin Street.

Julie Palmer-Nicholson serves as Director of Commercial Property Management for Franklin Street’s Office and Industrial Services division. With more than 20 years in the commercial real estate industry, Ms. Palmer-Nicholson is responsible for overseeing new business development, client relations, and operations for Franklin Street’s office and industrial assets in the Tampa Bay market.

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Easton buys four Westside warehouses for $2.2M

A group led by Sam Easton, president of the Easton, Sanderson & Co. real estate company, bought four West Jacksonville warehouses Friday for $2.2 million.

His 6721 Stuart Avenue L.L.C. acquired the four-building property, totaling 115,000 square feet, from 3601 Corp. Ameris Bank issued a $1.76 million mortgage.

Monte Merritt, senior director of the Franklin Street real estate company, listed the company on behalf of the seller.

Two buildings were built in 1974 and two others in 1989, property records show. They recently were renovated and were fully leased when sold.

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Hurricane-free insurance market offers commercial bargains

As the years roll by without a hurricane, the already soft commercial insurance market continues to liquefy, offering bargains to those who are willing to shop, observers say.  

Rates are at 10-year lows, said Gary Reshefsky, a principal at Century Risk Advisors, a full-service agency with offices in Coral Gables and Boca Raton.

“The leading type of insurance that drives our local economy is property insurance, and in this soft market you can negotiate very favorable terms and conditions for your clients.”

Part of the reason is the hurricane-free years since Katrina and Wilma, but the entrance of new players into the market has also had an impact, he said. 

“In the past 12 months, there’s been an infusion of non-traditional capital into insurance companies, and that has caused rates to go down even more,” he said.  Institutional investors such as pension funds are attracted to insurance companies as “short-tail” propositions that prove to be favorable investments – or not – within a year or so. 

They’re looking for a quick return and they are investing in catastrophic insurance now because they are not able to get the return in other places,” Mr. Reshefsky said. 

Even if hurricane does hit South Florida, he doesn’t see institutional investors fleeing the state, as they have recognized a good investment opportunity, he added. 

Meanwhile, on the flood insurance front, some are still waiting for the other shoe to drop on last year’s changes to requirements for commercial properties.

Beginning in April 2015, the federal government – which up until then had been the primary provided for flood insurance – introduced a per-policy fee of $250, a $45 surcharge, a 15% fee to build up reserve and a 15% fee to build up reserve and a 15% across-the-board rate hike.  In addition, it raised the required limits, which used to be $250,000, to $500,000.  And while the government can’t force anyone to carry flood insurance, lenders can, said Ryan Cassidy, senior director of Franklin StreetInsurance Services.

“Lenders who did not catch the changes last year can require clients to carry the highest limits, which will automatically increase the premiums,” he said recently.  “We expect a lot of people to get caught with it this year or the year following.”

Insurance policies are renewed yearly, but sometimes lenders don’t notice the changes until they audit the files, he explained.  

Rates are rising, he said. “I’m seeing a trend in the upwards direction, up to a more reasonable number to protect what’s really an overleverages market.”

The payouts after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 were extreme, Mr. Cassidy said, and lenders don’t require flood insurance everywhere, so the burden was strongly felt in the areas most likely to get hit, including the Atlantic coastline.

With rates on the rise and money to be made, private companies are getting into the flood insurance business, he added.  “They are coming out of the woodwork, now that premiums are going up.”

Private companies entering what has historically been a government-run marketplace is good news for businesses that need coverage, Mr. Reshefsky said. 

“A lot of companies are now writing primary flood insurance, which is a new development,” he said.  “We can negotiate better terms and conditions.”

For instance, traditionally the owner had to assume the first 5% of flood losses as a deductible, but now that competition has heated up, in some cases that deductible can be negotiated down to 1% and the insured will still pay the same premium. 

Nevertheless, some insurers, he said, will always wary of doing business in South Florida.  “They’re afraid of Miami” because of the area’s reputation for excessive litigation. “We are at a bit of disadvantage there.”

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Marietta’s Whitlock Village retail center sells for $7M

Franklin Street, a family of full-service real estate companies, announced the sale of Whitlock Village in Marietta for $7 million. The 61,180-square-foot multi-tenant retail center sales price represents $114.42 per square foot.

John Tennant and Bryan Belk of Franklin Street represented the seller, American National Insurance Company, in the transaction. The buyer is a private local investor, Snellville Plaza LLLP.

“We were able to secure topend pricing for Whitlock Village because of its prime position in the Marietta market,” Tennant said. “It is becoming increasingly harder for investors to find value-add deals as many of these well-entitled deals have already been renovated and redeveloped. This asset provides the buyer with the opportunity to develop an outparcel to create additional cash flow and to lease up the remaining space.” Whitlock Village is a newly renovated, multi-tenant center including Goodwill, Dollar Tree and Hibbett Sporting Goods. The property is 96 percent occupied. National retailers including Kroger, BB& T, Waffle House, Rite Aid, Bank of America and McDonalds surround the property.

Franklin Street focuses on delivering value-added solutions to meet the evolving needs of clients.

For more information, visit FranklinSt.com.

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CRE’s Best Boss of 2016 Andrew Wright

If one were to look on paper at what makes a great leader in commercial real estate, the criteria would certainly include financial performance, transaction volume, shareholder returns or the number of properties the firm owns or manages – depending on the type of business the individual leads. And a quick look at some of the data available on the industry would make the task of selecting CRE’s top leaders relatively easy. 

Yet true leaders manifest themselves not only through performance but also – and arguably more importantly – by the way their employees feel about them. Afterall, real estate is a relationship business, and relationships are all about people. Even the most qualified and experienced C-suite executive would be adrift in such a tumultuous business without a talented, motivated and dedicated crew.

With this in mind, we at Real Estate Forum decided to find out who were considered among the industry’s best leaders as part of our inaugural Leadership Issue. Of course, we sought out such factors as ambition, accomplishment and financial prowess. But we also looked beyond those qualities to turn up individuals who were likable, inspirational, innovative and who lead by example. In short, we were looking for leaders who rise above the C-suite sea to have talented professionals clamoring to work for – and with – them.

The response to our call for the “Best Bosses in the Business” far exceeded our expectations, with more than 100 nominees submitted for consideration. The editors narrowed down the selections to 26 finalists based on the individuals’ most remarkable characteristic; in fact, the breadth and quality of the nominees was so great that we decided to increase the number of finalists – and their superlatives, if you will – from the initially planned 15. 

We then conducted a thorough poll of our readership to determine who would grace the issue’s cover as the Best Boss in the Business. Nearly 4,000 votes later, we had our winner in Andrew Wright, the young superstar who founded Franklin Street a decade ago.

Yet all 26 of the individuals on the following pages have justly earned the reputation of “Best Boss,” if one were to look at how their employees feel about them. Read on to see who else made the final cut, and what their colleagues have to say about them. And for more information about our process in selecting the finalists, read our detailed methodology section at the end of this feature.

CRE’s Best Boss of 2016: Andrew Wright

Launching and growing a new company at a time when most real estate firms were downsizing and cutting costs, if not going out of business, would seem to be a fool’s errand. Yet for Andrew Wright, the gamble paid off – and well – thanks to a fierce determination and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

CEO and managing partner, Wright was 26 when he established Franklin Street in 2006. Since then, he has grown the full-service CRE firm from four people operating out of an apartment in Tampa, FL to 200 staffers in six offices in major markets throughout the Southeast, all focused on delivering value-added solutions to CRE owners and occupiers nationwide.

Despite his young age, Wright has a deep knowledge of the market, having negotiated the resolution of more than $800 million in distressed CRE debt since 2009. With this expertise, in 2012 Wright implemented Franklin Street’s new management strategy, providing a balanced picture of the company’s goals so that all employees understand them. Namely, the focus was on the training and recruitment of top talent and a focus on revenue growth by offices and verticals. He reviews the strategy map with the entire company every quarter and highlights ways in which the firm is successfully executing its goals – all while providing his employees with the tools an leadership they need to succeed. He also makes sure Franklin Street advocates mentorship from company leaders to new professionals who are learning the market.

To reach his 10-year goal of growing Franklin Street to be a national brand with offices in the top 35 metro markets, Wright is looking to grow organically. To accomplish this, he makes it his mission to make the firm a “great place to work.” As such, he’s implemented such initiatives as regularly scheduled “lunch and learns,” sales meetings to share business development opportunities and “all-hands” collaboration meetings to share trends and updates. He offers mentorship-based employee training and internal promotion opportunities, quarterly team-building events in each office and annual reward trips for top sales and corporate employees. He also established Employee Appreciation Day as a paid holiday and holds an annual year-end party and awards ceremony for all offices. That’s in addition to the firm’s philanthropic activities; staffers receive company-paid time off to volunteer in the community and, in 2014, the United Way Suncoast recognized Franklin Street as a Top Volunteer Workplace.

Yet what’s written on paper only tells so much of a story. Of the dozens of comments Wright’s colleagues shared, here are a few that illustrate his influence as a leader.

Samantha Berk Plate, a real estate services director, tells of Wright’s honesty and openness as a leader. “We were at a large but casual company picnic with all of the employees, from top producers to property management workers,” she relates. “The rest of us were eating and I asked if he was going to eat lunch yet. He said he would after he gives his speech to the group – he always has the most motivational and sincere speeches. When I asked why, he said he gets nervous to speak in front of his employees because of how much it means to him. This was coming from a man who speaks in front of countless panels and daunting situations. It just goes to show how much he truly cares. To him, business is personal, in the most positive way.”

HR director Becky Berns tells of one of Franklin Street’s quarterly corporate volunteer events in which over 50 Tampa team members participated in the United Way Day of Caring, cleaning group cabins at the Children’s Home. “Everyone was assigned tasks first thing in the morning,” she recounts. “Andrew, however, had an early morning appointment so he arrived at the Children’s Home about a half hour after all the assignments had been handed out. When he arrived, e walked up to me and said, ‘I’m ready to go! What’s my assignment?’

“Just what assignment do you give your CEO? Being relatively new with the company I replied cautiously, ‘Well… we don’t have anyone to mop yet,’ and waited for a reaction. Andrew just smiled at me and said, ‘Awesome! I’m going to be the Mopping Captain!’ He grabbed two people who’d just walked in and said his team would start in the back and work their way forward.

“True to his work, he led his team with vigor as they diligently scrubbed the floors of every single room in every single cabin. I keep a picture of Andrew and his mop and bucket from that morning in my office to this day. Andrew leads by example and no one has more passion or enthusiasm. He has a special spark and an energy like no other. When he is not with us, we miss him… and when he is with us, we shine in the reflection of his spirit.”

Others put their thoughts more simply: “Andrew’s values influenced my decision to pursue a job here;” “I would follow his lead anywhere.” “He is like no other CEO I’ve ever worked with in my 30 years in CRE;” and, “To call Andrew a boss is just not enough. He is a mentor and a friend.”

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$2.2 million warehouses sold on Jacksonville’s Westside

A complex of four warehouses that total about 115,000 square feet of warehouse space on Jacksonville’s Westside has sold for $2.2 million, according to the broker that represented the seller.

Monte Merritt, a senior director of real estate services for Franklin Street, said all space has been leased in the warehouses at 6721 Stuart Ave.

The 3601 Corp. bought the complex in 2011 for $700,000. The two about 45,000-square-foot buildings on the two-acre lot were built in 1974 and the two other buildings were built in 1989.

Jacksonville-based Easton Sanderson Co. purchased the property Friday.

Merritt said the sale is indicative of a heating-up industrial market in Jacksonville. Multifamily and retail have been hot for the past two or three years, he said, and office has made significant progress over the past 18 months, but industrial has been sluggish with lease rates just recently surging past $4 per square foot to near $4.40 in some submarkets, he said.

“The industrial market is certainly the last market to move,” he said.

However, with the vacancy rate standing at 6.1 percent at the end of the first quarter, he said, it could be soon that Jacksonville could see more speculative industrial space.

“I feel that at 6 percent [vacancy] we will start to see increases in rents leading to speculative building,” Merritt said.

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Business Monday Movers: Abolafia

BUSINESS MONDAY
Movers

Real Estate – Julie Abolafia joins the Fort Lauderdale office of Franklin Street as director of multifamily investment sales.  She previously was at Capital Commercial Real Estate Group, Inc.  Abolafia graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. 

 
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HUD Compliance

Staying compliant with HUD requirements can be an onerous process especially when it’s related to a subject matter that is not widely familiar to most owners. I am specially referring to the universally held, but far less understood requirement of insurance. Between HUD, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Bond trustee, Syndicators, etc., ensuring your insurance program remains complaint on all insurance requirements can be a difficult task. Insurance requirements can change more frequently than expected and it’s important your insurance broker is providing updates on these changes as they happen and allowing you to make any necessary changes to your insurance program to main compliance. 

In addition, we are seeing an increase in the lender’s level of analysis of larger portfolio’s even when the insurance requirements may not have changed.  Currently, we’re seeing a stronger emphasis placed on the adequacy of policy limits for blanket programs, flood insurance and policy aggregate limits on General Liability policies.  Again, it is important your broker is up to speed on these developments and provides consultation on any changes that would need to be made to your insurance program prior to renewal as making these changes after the face can be unexpected and costly. 

Historically, the insurance requirements for HUD have been outdated and inconsistent with the rest of the industry.  However, recently several changes have been made to their requirements, which will only be enforceable on new applications.  Therefore, insurance coverages that have been compliant in the past may not be on the new deals you are pursuing.  It is important to be aware of these new insurance requirements and understand that impact they could have on your total cost of insurance. 

We recognize these insurance requirements can change more often than owners and managers are able to keep up with. To assist owners with the dynamic environment, we spend a great deal of time educating and consulting our clients on the most current insurance coverage to place for their portfolio at the time of renewal.  Franklin Street Insurance is a national brokerage firm focused on providing insurance and risk management services to the affordable housing industry. Our service platform and account teams are designed to deliver our affordable housing clients the best service, consultancy, and products in the market. 

About the Author: Matthew Harrell, CIC, is a Managing Director for Franklin Street‘s Insurance division. Matt Harrell brings a wealth of industry experience to Franklin Street Insurance Services. As Managing Director, he works with property owners from across the country designing creative insurance programs structured to fit the needs of his clients’ individual portfolios. Mr. Harrell manages a book of more than 60,000 apartment units and 15 million square feet of retail, office, and industrial space. He is licensed in 45 states and has earned the distinguished Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. 

 

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Can Springfield spring back?

Jacksonville’s Springfield neighborhood has for years been an area in transition.

Although the residential market has roared back since its worst period, the commercial district has never followed along — a defect holding the neighborhood back from attracting even more of a residential base.

That could be changing: Last week, the owners of Bono’s Bar-B-Que said they were interested in a long-vacant building on North Main Street once occupied by Henrietta’s. The restaurateurs want to turn the 7,700-square-foot structure into a entertainment complex, breathing life into a strip that consists mostly of shuttered buildings, automotive service businesses and pawn shops.

However, it’s unlikely that one barbecue joint will be the tipping point that signals the success of the neighborhood.

The challenge for the neighborhood is to attract a level of commercial investment in line with the residential investment that has seen housing values grow.

Doing so could have spillover effects, showing that retail can work in the urban core. More commercial and retail operations would also provide employment opportunities for surrounding neighborhoods, many of which have suffered endemic unemployment as businesses have abandoned the area.

SUCCESS ELSE WHERE

Springfield isn’t the only historic Jacksonville neighborhood that has long been working to rebuild itself to what it once was. The Riverside area might be Springfield’s closest counterpart: Both had neighborhood preservation societies form in 1974. Both have the towering oak trees and the historic homes.

But Riverside, by any meaning of the word, has been a success, and Springfield, which may be on the cusp, has not yet reached glory.

Experts on Springfield point to a smaller economic base, a deeper decline and an incorrect perception that the area isn’t safe as reasons the neighborhood hasn’t seen the same level of success as Riverside.

Wayne Wood founded Riverside Avondale Preservation Inc. in 1974 as he watched historical homes being lost to commercial encroachment and deterioration. It’s been a long fight, but the fruits are now showing.

“We’ve fought back and won back many of the areas,” he said. “Even as late as seven or eight years ago, half of it was not a very nice place.”

A similar organization formed the same year — Springfield Preservation and Revitalization.

“It’s hard to say which neighborhood was more downtrodden,” Wood said about the two areas. “They were both in a state of decline.”

Christina Parrish, executive director of SPAR, doesn’t hesitate to say that Springfield was in a worse spot than Riverside.

“Springfield got off to a slower start and has a longer climb,” she said. “If you could measure how much Springfield has already improved, you would see we have improved just as much, we just have farther to go.”

While both neighborhoods are steeped in history, Riverside’s commercial districts are healthier than Springfield’s. In many parts of Riverside, a vacant space is likely to be snapped up and — a splash of paint, a hammer and a few nails later — a new tenant opens up shop.

PERCEPTION OF CRIME

Jack Meeks and his wife JoAnn Tredennick sat on their porch on 2nd and Hubbard streets in historic Springfield.

“They used to call this area little Vietnam,” Tredennick said.

“And it wasn’t a compliment,” Meeks closed out the thought.

Tredennick said prostitutes and drug dealers roamed the streets in front of their home as recently as 2003, the year they bought the 4,200-square-foot house.

“But it’s peaceful now,” she said.

The major retail strip in Springfield was once a dangerous place, but it too has seen drastic improvements in recent years.

Costandi “Gus” Mashni still keeps a few guns behind the counter at the Moneytree Jewelry and Pawn on North Main Street. Mashni left Palestine in 1971 for America, arriving in Jacksonville in 1972 and getting a job at a Northside Sears. He eventually saved enough to buy a pawn shop on North Main Street in 1989 when there were nine other similar business in Springfield.

That number eventually ballooned to 12 pawn shops.

Crime was so bad in the early ’90s that North Main Street had a dedicated police foot patrol, he said.

“The reputation was not so great,” Mashni said. “People used to go ‘wow, really?’ when I told them I had a business in Springfield.”

He said the area has seen great strides since he opened up shop and that crime has drastically decreased. He hasn’t had a break-in since the city hosted the Superbowl, although he said that may be attributable to him installing roll-down shutters on the building.

“It’s improved to the point I don’t fear walking around at night,” he said.

Meeks said the perception that Springfield is a dangerous place has held the neighborhood back. He said that at least within historic Springfield, that problem is unjustified as crime is actually lower than many of the surrounding areas.

He’s correct when talking about the Springfield Historic District, the 500 acres established as a residential neighborhood in 1871 and bounded by 1st and 12th Streets to the north and south and Ionia Street and Boulevard to the east and west.

There’s less crime in historic Springfield than in Riverside — but Riverside is about three times as large as historic Springfield.

There were a total of 795 crimes reported in Riverside compared to 413 in historic Springfield in the 12 months ending April 2016.

But just a few blocks north of historic Springfield, the lower crime total doesn’t seem as definitive. There were four homicides reported just outside the boundaries of historic Springfield compared to one homicide reported in Riverside.

But Meeks feels secure — and believes in the area. As more of the old homes are renovated and occupied by owners, it will continue the momentum that has been gained over the years.

A few blocks from his house, Meeks owns an office building where he runs his accounting firm and has been watching the slow progress of the neighborhood. One sign of progress — Dumpsters on the streets signifying restorations in progress.

There are more of them today then there has been since he moved into the neighborhood, he said.

Wood, the architect of the Riverside resurgence, would agree.

“If Springfield continues to improve at its current rate, then Springfield is a good bet for the future,” he said.

HOME VALUES JUMP

In 1996, the average value of homes in Springfield was $67,400, according to real estate statistics firm Zillow, almost $9,000 below the citywide average value of $76,200 that year. Property values in both Jacksonville and Springfield climbed until late 2006, when Jacksonville as a whole peaked at $181,000 and Springfield at $168,400 before beginning to drop.

The nadir of that fall was in August 2012 citywide, according to Zillow, when values hit $98,600, while Springfield bottomed out about eight months after that at $85,000.

Because the citywide data takes into account more homes across more areas, its increase in values is smoother and more consistent, reaching $135,400 in March, the most recent data available. Springfield’s property values sharply shot up but then flattened out, landing at $118,000 in March.

The increasing property values signify that the area is headed in the right direction and validate some of the work that residents of Springfield have put into rehabbing the homes, say those familiar with the neighborhood.

But there are still challenges that must be overcome, Wood said.

Riverside’s transition to a prominent neighborhood was aided by a few things that Springfield lacks, Wood said.

Riverside houses were typically built on larger lots and attracted more affluent owners — then and now. Wood said there was more wood-frame construction in Springfield than there was in Riverside. Also, Springfield has suffered more absentee owners leading to some of the properties to be in a higher state of disrepair.

Crissie Cudd, a real estate agent that lives in Springfield, moved into the neighborhood in 2010 as the Great Recession had destroyed property values across the country and in the struggling neighborhood.

She said that appraisals and home values are starting to climb in the neighborhood.

As more of the houses are renovated, she said, the next piece of the puzzle that’s needed is a thriving commercial district like Riverside’s Five Points or King Street districts.

There, too, Springfield faces challenges compared to Riverside. Main Street cuts through Springfield and is lined with shuttered buildings in need of thousands of dollars of renovations before tenants can turn them into restaurants or retail storefronts.

SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES FEW AND FAR BETWEEN

The prime example of a successful business is Uptown Kitchen + Bar on Main and East 3rd streets.

John Valentino, one of the owners in the restaurant, said the ownership group chose to extend their lease on the building last year and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations.

“You always get a lot of positive feedback from anyone that goes for the first time,” he said. “I would love to see more businesses and restaurants come to Springfield.”

He said the rents are similar to Murray Hill where Valentino’s group recently bought Edgewood Bakery, which it will turn into an outpost of Southside’s hip lunch destination French Pantry.

“The numbers have to work,” he said. “But you have to have cooperative landlords.”

Many in Springfield point to the owners of the buildings along Main Street as holding that commercial area back. Two buildings on Main Street have been condemned and other buildings would need thousands of dollars in renovations before the structures would be usable.

Carrie Smith, a regional managing partner at commercial brokerage firm Franklin Street, said asking rents in Springfield can be in the high single digits to low teens per square foot. She also said that’s comparable to Murray Hill in terms of price, but that fact could change.

“Murray Hill has seen a lot more businesses open in the past 12 months than in Springfield,” she said.

Parrish once ran a guitar shop in Five Points called Blue Moon Music in the ’90s and sympathizes with some of the business owners. She said criticism of the owners of the buildings in Springfield may be unjustified as the recession caused property values to plummet, making it difficult for owners to reinvest in their properties.

She pointed out that as downtrodden as the Five Points area was when she owned her guitar shop, it never was as vacant as Main Street. Plus, the commercial buildings are much larger and more difficult to maintain than the ones in Five Points, she said.

“They [the property owners] are starting to come out from underwater,” she said.

Even as owners recover, Springfield’s demographics could prevent other businesses from locating there.

The median yearly income for the 32206 zip code, which encompasses Springfield as well as areas to the east and north, is $24,000 — about half of the median income in the rest of the city, according to U.S. Census data. Average income — possibly boosted by the influx of high-income residents — fares a little better, coming in at about $36,000. Still, Jacksonville’s average income is about $64,000.

Springfield is still finding its way, with SPAR marketing the area and attempting to continue the momentum until a critical mass has been reached. Parrish points out that there are more events being held like the Jacksonville PorchFest, a music festival where musicians play into the night as crowds walk Springfield’s streets. That event is scheduled for Nov. 5, the third time it will be held in the neighborhood.

This weekend, the neighborhood hosts its Historic Springfield Tour of Homes, attracting hundreds of people.

Parrish and other members of SPAR hope the marketing efforts they put forth will continue to attract residents to the oak tree-shaded streets and the historic houses underneath them.

In years past, such events have been followed by more calls to Realtors and more customers at the few commercial spots in the neighborhood — signs, perhaps, that the tipping point is close.

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Whitlock Village in Marietta Sells for $7 Million

Franklin Street announces the sale of Whitlock Village, located in Marietta, Georgia, for $7 million. The 61,180-square-foot multi-tenant retail center sales price represents $114.42 per square foot.

John Tennant and Bryan Belk of Franklin Street represented the seller, American National Insurance Company, in the transaction. The buyer is a private local investor, Snellville Plaza, LLLP.

“We were able to secure top-end pricing for Whitlock Village because of its prime position in the Marietta market,” Tennant said. “It is becoming increasingly harder for investors to find value-add deals as many of these well-entitled deals have already been renovated and redeveloped. This asset provides the buyer with the opportunity to develop an outparcel to create additional cash flow and to lease up the remaining space.”

Whitlock Village is a newly renovated, multi-tenant center including Goodwill, Dollar Tree, and Hibbett Sporting Goods. The property is 96 percent occupied and located in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta and the fourth-largest principal city of the Atlanta MSA. National retailers including Kroger, BB&T, Waffle House, Rite Aid, Bank of America and McDonalds surround the property.

About Franklin Street: Franklin Street is a family of full-service real estate companies focused on delivering value-added solutions to meet the evolving needs of clients. Through a collaborative philosophy of leveraging the resources, expertise, and experience of each of its divisions—Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Management, and Valuation—Franklin Street offers unmatched value and optimal solutions for clients nationwide. For more information on Franklin Street, please visit FranklinSt.com.

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