Avalon Buy Points To Experiential Retail’s Rise

ATLANTA—PGIM Real Estate, formerly called Prudential Real Estate Investors, acquired Avalon, a 1.1 million square foot mixed-use lifestyle center in Alpharetta, GA, on behalf of institutional investors. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Avalon is an open-air mixed-use lifestyle center, part of an 86-acre master-planned Avalon community in Alpharetta, a submarket about 20 miles north of Atlanta. The retail property serves the affluent communities in Fulton County, including Alpharetta, Roswell, Milton and Johns Creek.

“Avalon is one of the premier mixed-use development projects in the United States,” says Kevin R. Smith, head of Americas at PGIM. “The acquisition provides our investors with a rare opportunity to acquire a trophy-quality mixed-use property in a strong demographic area, and is consistent with PGIM Real Estate’s strategy to acquire experiential retail centers in markets that are poised to continue to benefit from an increase in consumer discretionary spending.”

PGIM’s investment includes 390,543 square feet of class A retail; 105,364 square feet of class A office space; 250 luxury multifamily units; and a 3.3-acre office development parcel. The retail and office components are 100% leased. The multifamily units are 98% leased.

PGIM will also purchase a second phase of Avalon, which will include about 90,000 square feet of class A retail and 276 luxury multifamily units. The second phase is under construction with completion scheduled for mid-2017. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Anchored by Whole Foods, Regal Cinemas, The Container Store and Crate & Barrel, the existing retail is leased to national tenants. The second phase retail is pre-leased to tenants including Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, Williams Sonoma, Brooks Brothers, and a technology tenant. The retail property also includes several high-quality, local chef-driven restaurants, as well as national restaurants such as Kona Grill and Ted’s Montana Grill. The apartments and existing office space are located directly above the retail space.

Avalon is a strong example of experiential retail. It’s a trend that’s not only gaining momentum, it’s springing up across the board as retail shifts to meet new consumer demands. Some are saying experiential retail projects like Avalon in Atlanta could transform the industry.

“Restaurants and retailers are learning to become omnichannel, focusing on how to better align themselves with their customer base and how to win and keep loyal customers,” Brian Bern, a senior director of real estate services at Franklin Street, tells As another example of experiential retail, Bern points to Whole Foods. The organic grocer has a blog where it posts recipes, cooking tips and more. Shoppers follow their blog and come in to buy the products and items featured.

“Nordstrom has restaurants and bars located within their traditional department stores, while attracting more customers online and at their off-priced Nordstrom Rack locations,” Bern says. “Shopping center owners and managers are paying more attention to the retail mix in their centers. They are seeking retailers that offer an experience in order to drive additional and repeat traffic to their centers.”

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The ‘Whole Foods Effect’ shines on

The surge in health-conscious retailers is evident wherever one shops. In the space of a few years, the likes of Lululemon, Fresh Market, and Orangetheory Fitness have proliferated in shopping centers. But Whole Foods, arguably a chief driver of the trend, has transformed its own business as well as that of centers.
In the past five years, Whole Foods increased its store count nearly 50% to a total of 450 in three countries. The $15 billion juggernaut of organic food shows no signs of slowing, nor do competitors such as Sprouts and Trader Joes. Whole Foods’ growth has helped forge a value proposition that is reshaping the commercial real estate market. People who once came to a shopping center simply to shop today come to spin, to eat better foods, or to learn how their dog food affects the environment. 
The result has been a surge in health-conscious retail real estate, with tenants spanning grocery, restaurants, fitness concepts, and pet stores. It’s a trend peopled by educated and accelerated Millennials who are acutely conscious of what goes in and on their bodies and the effects those products have on the earth. Not to be forgotten are Baby Boomers, who are getting older and more health-conscious, too. 
Indeed, the seeds of today’s health-driven retail scene were sown when many Boomers were still in high school and college. In 1972 Title IX was passed. It prohibited sexual discrimination in any federally funded school sports program and gave rise to two entire generations of female basketball players, marathoners, soccer players, and triathletes. As a result, a steady flow of fitness concepts like Orangetheory, Flywheel Sports, and Core Power Yoga, to name a few, have sprung up in shopping centers to cater to women who might not have opportunity to play a sport, but  who want to remain active. 
Fitness centers open new store doors for athletic apparel formats like Fabletics, Lululemon and Athleta. All of these brands are aggressively expanding in shopping centers with fitness concepts, organic grocers, and healthy eating options. Some are even selling their apparel inside health clubs. It’s no longer considered taboo to wear workout apparel while shopping or grabbing a bite to eat, and the demand for attractive, trendy “athleisure” apparel has never been higher.  
Traditional grocery stores, meanwhile, are upping their stocks of organic, fresh, healthy food. The rapid expansion of Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s into shopping centers has forced the likes of Kroger and Publix to become more conscious of the products they sell, as well as the way they merchandise their fresh and organic products. 
By catering to this growing health-conscious audience, grocers are poised to capture more market share because of their tremendous buying capacity and the fact that they already have the framework in place to “reset” their stores and reach this target demographic. We also expect to see an increase of customer experiences within these stores, such as growler stations, salad and sushi bars, and wine tastings. 
Even pet stores are venturing into this space. Hollywood Feed is a holistic pet food and product retailer that’s filling a void and succeeding because of it. There are nearly 50 Hollywood Feed stores throughout the Southeast, and they are aggressively seeking locations to expand. We expect traditional pet stores like PetSmart and Petco to expand their organic offerings as well in order to better compete and cater to this growing market. 
With increased education and conversation about healthy living, these retailers aren’t an anomaly anymore. Instead, they represent an important and viable subset of the real estate market. 
Health consciousness isn’t a trend or fad, but the “new norm” – a real lifestyle change that spans generations and brings new opportunities for the commercial real estate industry.

Emil Gullia, senior director for Franklin Street, specializes in tenant representation, occupier and advisory services. He has completed more than $130 million in retail tenant transactions involving retailers such as Cabela’s, Guitar Center, Harbor Freight Tools, and PNC Bank.

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Fast 50: 2016 fastest-growing companies in Tampa Bay

A Seminole energy company has been named the fastest-growing company in Tampa Bay.

American Power and Gas, which provides green energy from non-fossil fuel based sources, has grown 466.9 percent in three years, making it the No. 1 company on the Fast 50 List for 2016.

The final ranking was revealed in a Thursday luncheon at TPepin Hospitality Centre. See the other companies in the photo gallery that were honored this year.

Subscribers can find the full ranking here.

Harmony Healthcare LLC in Tampa took the No. 2 spot with 421.74 percent growth; Nujak Development Inc. in Lakeland ranked No. 3 this year with 399.84 percent growth.

Subscribers can read more content about these companies on Friday.

One terrific element of this annual project is the spinoff data that comes with it. In addition to profiles of the No. 1 company and some others on the List we found interesting, find trend-spotting detail about what sectors are represented the most, which companies make the List year after year, and which businesses jumped the farthest after appearing on the List last year.

Most times on the list

From 2007-2016

Company Times on the List
AgileThought 7 times
DAS Health 7 times
Stellar Development Inc. 6 times
Franklin Street 6 times
myMatrixx 6 times
Bessolo Design Group 5 times
Power Design 5 times
Square Design 5 times

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Franklin Street Expands Tampa Retail Services, Hires Allie Kessler

Franklin Street announces the hiring of Allie Kessler as Director of Retail Landlord Leasing in the Tampa office. Working primarily with commercial real estate owners and developers, she will focus on improving tenant retention, attracting new tenants, stabilizing operating income, and maximizing value for retail properties throughout West Florida.

Kessler works closely with Brian Bern, Senior Director, and Ryan Derriman, Director, to support the growth of the leasing team’s landlord platform throughout the west coast of Florida. Franklin Street’s Tampa retail presence has been expanding in the past year including adding three landlord clients Retail Properties of America, Inc., Pine Tree Commercial, and Sooner Investments. 

“Allie is a great asset to the Franklin Street team and will help us continue to build our geographic footprint,” Bern said. “She has a proven track record of completing numerous complex transactions with great success,” said Bern. “Her experience in leasing is a huge benefit to our clients and will help them achieve their occupancy goals as we continue our team’s growth.”

Prior to joining Franklin Street, Kessler worked as a leasing associate for the JBG Companies in Washington, D.C.  She was responsible for leasing the firm’s office portfolio across Northern Virginia.  During her time at JBG, she and a team of six leased a portfolio of 10 million square feet across Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, while also securing anchor tenants for development projects in the metro area.

“Since moving back to Tampa, I’ve noticed how the city has changed in so many positive ways and I think it’s a very exciting time to be back,” Kessler said. “From a professional standpoint, it was an easy decision to join Franklin Street.  It’s a well-established, mid-sized company that is on an incredible growth trajectory with a very unique, collaborative culture.”

Heavily involved in the commercial real estate community, Kessler is a member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). 

Kessler graduated magna cum laude from Wake Forest University. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in Washington D.C. and is fluent in both English and Spanish.

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

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Jacksonville Beach apartment complex sold in hot market

A 14-unit Jacksonville Beach apartment and duplex community was sold for $1.82 million last week.

First Street Apartments was built in the late 1940s at 16th Avenue North and 1st Street North, but the previous owners renovated the apartments in 2015 and generated a sale that represents $130,000 per unit.

Franklin Street’s James Reed and Matthew Kesterson brokered the sale.

The apartment community has eight buildings, two single-family residences and six duplexes on about half an acre.

Reed said the Jacksonville’s Beach area is very competitive in the commercial real estate market with few vacancies across all property types. First Street Apartments are 100 percent leased.

“Rents have been increasing in this area at about 5 percent annually, vacancies are decreasing and investors are being very competitive with their acquisitions, especially in popular beach locations,” he said in a written statement.

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Meet the CIO of the Year finalists

A panel of judges has named 20 local businesspeople finalists for the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2016 CIO of the Year Awards.

Additionally, three winners have been named in separate categories.

The TBBJ sought nominations for eligible information technology executives in the area and emerging leaders.

The following were named finalists in six categories:

Todd Bayley, CIO, Pasco County Government

Ken Washington, CIO, Port Tampa Bay

Health care
Jennifer Greenman, CIO, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Elizabeth Kerns, CIO, Lakeland Regional Health

Sheree McFarland, CIO, HCA West Florida

Timothy Thompson, CIO, BayCare Health System

Chad Lewis, CIO, Tampa Preparatory School

Jim Miller, CIO, Operation PAR / SAS Tampa Bay

Ray Wright, CIO, Eckerd Kids

Private – large
Scott Caschette, CIO, ALAW

Chris Cate, CIO, Cox Target Media/Valpak

John Kuemmel, CIO, Triad Retail Media

Steve Rubinow, CIO, Catalina

Private – medium
Gianni Barkett, CTO, Amalie Oil Co.

Michael Geis, CIO, myMatrixx

Tom Rybak, CIO, Franklin Street

Kimberly Anstett, CIO, The Nielsen Co.

Marcio deOliveira, CTO, C1 Bank

Karen Etzkorn, CIO, HSN Inc.

John Tonnison, CIO, Tech Data Corp.

The following companies have been named winners in these categories and will be honored at the event:

Best big data and analytic project: Catalina

Innovative technology project in retail: Triad Retail Media

Emerging leader: Stephanie Davis, Cox Target Media/Valpak

The CIO of the Year Awards will be held on Aug. 25 at the Straz Center in Tampa. Event details to come.

Presenting sponsor is CDW; event partners are Cologix and Dobler Consulting.

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Franklin Street Picks Up Central Florida Heavy Hitter

ORLANDO—Terrence Hart is now hanging his hat at Franklin Street. He joins the firm as senior director of retail leasing.

Hart will work primarily with institutional owners and developers as a tenant and landlord representative. He will oversee leasing client properties across Central Florida and focus on business development initiatives to expand the division’s geographical footprint and client base.

Hart comes to Franklin Street with more than 14 years of commercial real estate experience in the Central Florida market. He has tenant representation and agency leasing experience and works to help clients maximize each property’s full potential through management, acquisition, and disposition.

“We are in a full redevelopment phase in Central Florida right now,” Hart tells “The retail market returned very quickly starting in 2012 bouncing off a hard recession that allowed little development for about five years. This caused a short term shortage of quality retail which is now seeing its correction. Unfortunately, the cost of redevelopment land and construction has been pushed so high that rents are being pressed into the $40 to $50 per square foot range, which this market hasn’t seen even in the pre-recession boom.”

Hart has worked his entire commercial real estate career in Central Florida. Most recently, he was vice president in the retail division at JLL. Before that, he spent several years at Forness Properties as vice president of leasing and sales, focusing on a portfolio of more 18 retail centers in Florida. He closed on deals valued over $28 million in 2014-2015 through leasing and tenant representation.

Franklin Street opened its Orlando office in early May, hiring Melissa Hazlewood as vice president of property management. Since then, the company announced that it had secured a contract to manage more than a half-million square feet of office assets for Starwood Capital in Orlando and Tampa.

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Columbus Court Apartments in Tampa Sell for $11M

Franklin Street announces the sale of Columbus Court Apartments in Tampa for $11 million. Located at 2802 Statelite Court, this sales price represents $68,750 per unit and $78.95 per foot.

Darron Kattan, Kevin Kelleher, Zachary Ames and Robert Goldfinger of Franklin Street represented both the seller, Rome Holdings, LLC, and the buyer, SP CC Apartments LLC, in the transaction.

“Columbus Court operates under a full project-based Section 8 contract. The buyers secured public funding which will allow them to renovate the property significantly, preserve the affordable restrictions and allow for residents who wouldn’t normally be able to afford to live in such a dynamic location the ability to do so,” said Kattan. “The need for quality affordable rental housing in the urban core is immense; this property will now be able to accommodate some of that demand for the long term.”

Columbus Court Apartments is a 160-unit, garden-style apartment community located in the desirable downtown Tampa submarket. Built in 1969, the property consists of eight three-story buildings comprised of concrete-block construction. The property’s advantageous and waterfront location provides excellent access to major thoroughfares and many local retailers.

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

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Downtown Tampa Apartments Sell for $11M

Tampa, Fla.—Columbus Court Apartments in Tampa has traded for $11 million. Located at 2802 Statelite Court, the sale represents a price of $68,750 per unit and $78.95 per foot.

The property is a 160-unit, garden-style community in the downtown Tampa submarket. Built in 1969, Columbus Court Apartments consists of eight three-story buildings comprised of concrete-block construction. The property has a waterfront location.

Darron KattanKevin KelleherZachary Ames and Robert Goldfinger of Franklin Street represented both the seller, Rome Holdings LLC, and the buyer, SP CC Apartments LLC, in the transaction.

Columbus Court operates under a full project-based Section 8 contract. The buyers have secured public funding, which will allow them to renovate the property significantly, preserve the affordable restrictions and allow for residents who wouldn’t normally be able to afford to live in such a location the ability to do so, Kattan explained.

Tampa, formerly a less active apartment market than the likes of Miami or Orlando, is now seeing considerable growth in demand and rising rents. According to Axiometrics, the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro had the eighth highest rent growth (Orlando was No. 9) in the nation during the first quarter of this year.

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Two metro apartment complexes sell for $154.5 million

Activity in Atlanta’s multifamily market is heating up.

Two separate apartment metro Atlanta apartment complexes were sold for an aggregate of $154.5 million.

Greensboro, N.C.-based Bell Partners Inc. bought the 380-unit community Alexander at the Perimeter just off of Ashford Dunwoody Road in Atlanta for more than $75 million or about $197,400 per unit. The community will be renamed Bell Perimeter Center and will be managed by Bell Partners.

“Major corporate expansions and limited new supply in the perimeter center submarket continue to drive rental rates and strong investor interest,” said Jake Reid, senior director of multifamily sales in Franklin Street Real Estate Services’ Atlanta office.

In the Westside, New York-based Bluerock Residential Growth REIT Inc. (NYSE: BRG) bought a leasehold interest in the class-A, 336-unit, mixed-use Tenside Apartment Homes at 1000 Northside Dr. near Georgia Tech for $74.5 million, or about $197,900 per residential unit and $205 per square foot of retail space. The community will be rebranded as the Arium Westside.

“Tenants are taking even more interest in walkability as an amenity, so a mixed use component within the sought after West-Midtown market should support ownership’s ability to continue to push rents,” Reid said.

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