Leasing Las Olas

In December of last year, Las Olas Companies, Barron Real Estate and Hudson Capital Group — the three major commercial property owners on Las Olas Boulevard — hired retail leasing guru Michael Comras to help them revitalize a four-block stretch of what is arguably downtown Fort Lauderdale’s most important strip: from Southeast Sixth Avenue to Southeast 10th Terrace.

Yet 10 months into the effort, Miami Beach-based Comras Company has only announced two new shops, highlighting the struggle to reshape Las Olas into a prime high street.

“Las Olas has always been this amazing street that makes you ask, ‘Why can’t it be merchandised into something that is contemporary for today?’” Comras, a New York-born commercial real estate broker and investor, asked. “When you compare it to retail streets like Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach or Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Las Olas has so much going for it, but the street still doesn’t have the proper balance between food and beverage and clothing and accessories.”

However, Comras is confident that he’s reached a turning point with the recent signing of Bluemercury to a long-term lease. In mid-June, the Washington, D.C.-based luxury cosmetics store opened its second South Florida location at 1010 Las Olas Boulevard.

 Comras said Bluemercury is a nice complement to Alex and Ani, a high-end custom jewelry store that opened next door at 1012 Las Olas Boulevard in 2015. “Both appeal to a younger clientele,” he said. “And both show what a change in merchandising can do to improve Las Olas.”

In November, a Lilly Pulitzer pop-up store will open at 1007 Las Olas Boulevard. The Pennsylvania-based women’s resortwear retailer signed a short-term lease that runs through May 2018.

Comras claimed he didn’t need to offer Bluemercury and Lilly Pulitzer any special concessions or incentives to move in, insisting the retailers chose Las Olas Boulevard “for its prime location in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale.”

Nevertheless, it’s hard to miss the abundance of empty storefronts while strolling Las Olas. Restaurants that spent many years there, such as Mangos, Cafe de Paris, Johnny V’s and Fork & Balls, have shuttered in the last year. According to the Colliers International Q2 report, downtown Fort Lauderdale had a 3.3 percent retail vacancy rate.

“Right now, Las Olas is an unproven concept, so you will see vacancies,” said Robert Granda, Franklin Street’s South Florida retail director. “Nothing has been occurring on Las Olas for a very long time. It has been a stagnant market.”

Still, Comras insisted he is close to bringing in more national retail brands to fill those empty spaces. 

He and Zach Winkler, a JLL senior vice president, both said that the large amount of vacancies on Las Olas will make it easier to rebrand the street with a retail mix that appeals to a more cosmopolitan demographic.

“The major property owners on Las Olas are purposely repositioning the four-block stretch,” said Winkler.

Granda said the real catalyst for a retail renaissance on Las Olas will be convincing retailers that the neighborhood will soon have a critical mass of people to draw into their stores. He noted that a key selling point is the influx of new residential developments like Icon Las Olas. The 45-story luxury apartment tower at 500 Las Olas Boulevard was scheduled to open in September, and half of the 272 units have been leased, according to a spokesperson for the Related Group.

This summer, Property Markets Group began demolishing the former Las Olas Riverfront site to make way for a massive mixed-used development with 1,200 apartments, 100,000 square feet of shared amenities and a waterfront public plaza lined with restaurants and entertainment.

“Las Olas is primed to be the next hot spot,” Granda said. “Once retailers understand what Las Olas could become, you will see a lot less changeover.” 


Jacksonville Business Journal Partners in Philanthropy: Franklin Street

Franklin Street was honored at the Jacksonville Business Journal 2017 Partners in Philanthropy Awards luncheon. Franklin Street’s Yvonne Baker, Regional Managing Partner for Jacksonville and Orlando, discussed the commercial real estate firm’s corporate philanthropy program in an interview. 

Tell us about a time when your charitable involvement – donations or activities – had an impact on a person or group that has stuck with you?

Many years ago, I was volunteering as a troop leader and service unit leader for Girl Scouts of Central Florida when a young Girl Scout told our volunteers something that has stuck with me since. We organized the annual Camporee, a two-day, two-night camping adventure for Girl Scouts. This themed event included activities, education and play for about 200 girls from our area and took a team of volunteers to make it a success.

As we were packing up for the end of the weekend and getting ready to depart, a 6-year-old camper came up to me and hugged me tightly and said she didn’t want to leave, that this was the best weekend of her life. With all the other entertainment and play options in Central Florida, this young child said a Girl Scout Camporee was her best weekend ever. I think about that moment almost every time I am volunteering. It’s the reason we volunteer, it’s what makes participation rewarding.

Explain why you think it’s important for a business organization to be involved in charitable activities?

Franklin Street is dedicated to the communities where we live and work. Philanthropy teaches our teams many lessons and values they cannot learn in the office and opens their eyes to segments of our communities not all businesspeople are exposed to. It is important to us to develop as partners in our communities, not just one-dimensional, business focused real estate professionals. We support and encourage philanthropy in the form of giving of time and talent as well as funds. We also partner with local community organizations for our corporate wellness and team building events.


What philanthropic or nonprofit need do you see as most pressing for the community to deal with and why?

We continue to be interested in charities, activities and organization that fulfill an important need in our community, especially with our underserved populations. These may not be the glitziest gala projects or the efforts that land in the newspaper. Neglected populations – teens are a good example – need our support and
appreciate the help. Through Daniel Kids, we are participating in the success of their kids through mentoring, spending time with them and supporting them. Our brokers and staff are engaged on an ongoing basis in more ways than just raising funds. While funding is important, volunteerism and making real connections is more
valuable to us than just handing out services or donations.

Roughly how much has your organization donated to Jacksonville-area nonprofits in 2016?

The North Florida office of Franklin Street has raised more than $3,000 for the organization in the past and are closing out 2017 fundraising efforts that will total more than $6,000, bringing the 2016-2017 total to nearly $10,000.


Unison Realty Partners Acquires Lake Mary Pointe in Orlando MSA

Unison Realty Partners, a privately held retail real estate investment management firm, announced its purchase of Lake Mary Pointe, a 51,000-square-foot neighborhood grocery-anchored shopping center in Lake Mary, FL. The firm acquired the property from Retail Properties of America, Inc. (RPAI).

Lake Mary Pointe is located 13 miles north of downtown Orlando and is currently 84% leased. Publix, Florida’s dominant grocer, has served as anchor since the center was built in 1999. The center is strategically positioned on the corner of Weldon Boulevard and U.S. 17/92, a primary north-south road connecting Lake Mary to Orlando with an average daily traffic volume of approximately 37,000 vehicles per day. Lake Mary Pointe is located less than one mile south of Seminole State College’s main campus (over 14,000 students enrolled) and Seminole County Government Offices (over 1,200 employees). Within a 3-mile radius of the property there is an estimated 57,000 residents earning an average annual income of more than $70,000.

“The purchase of Lake Mary Pointe marks our entry into Florida,” says Brendon McCarthy, Vice President of Acquisitions at Unison Realty Partners. “Having diligenced markets and opportunities for a number of years in the state, we are excited about the opportunity to own such a highly-successful Publix location in the high-growth Orlando MSA.”

Unison has retained Franklin Street, one of the fastest-growing real estate services firm in the Southeast, as both property manager and leasing agent for the center. Headquartered in Florida, Franklin Street has offices in Tampa, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale and has completed more than $4 billion in transaction volume throughout the United States.

“It is a pleasure to partner with Unison, a proven owner and operator of neighborhood retail, on their expansion into the Florida market,” says Yvonne Baker, Regional Managing Partner at Franklin Street of Orlando. “We look forward to continuing the success of Lake Mary Pointe to date and unlocking its full potential.”

Lake Mary Pointe represents Unison’s third acquisition in 2017. Earlier this year the firm purchased Mooresville Festival (a 160,000 SF community center anchored by Kohl’s and Big Lots outside of Charlotte, NC) and Commons at Hooper (a 120,000 SF community center anchored by Michaels, DSW and Dollar Tree in Toms River, NJ). Unison continues to actively seek new deals in Florida and throughout the Southeast Region to complement its existing New England and Mid-Atlantic presence.

Dennis Carson of CBRE Miami was the broker in this acquisition.

About Unison Realty Partners
Unison Realty Partners is a private equity real estate firm 100 percent dedicated to value-add retail investing. Based in Boston and founded in 2010, the firm has acquired over $185 million of shopping center space, totaling over 1.5 million square feet across 14 properties since inception. As an independent owner / operator, Unison implements a value-add investment strategy throughout the Eastern U.S. Unison targets necessity-based, neighborhood and community shopping centers representing $10-$50 million in property value. Learn more at


Brendon McCarthy, CFA
+1 617-702-8506

John DiOrio, CAIA
Joint Venture & Investment Solutions
+1 617-702-8507


Justin Berryman Joins Franklin Street’s Miami Office as Director of Retail Division

Franklin Street, a full-service, vertically integrated commercial real estate firm, has named Justin Berryman as Director for Retail Landlord Services in the Miami office.


How To Insulate Properties From Future Storms

Excerpted from Bisnow story.

South Floridians will never escape hurricanes entirely, but they can take steps to brace themselves against the risk. In conversations with Bisnow, several real estate professionals offered tips on how to best insulate projects from big storms. The magic formula? An ultra-sharp lawyer, loads of insurance and impeccable site selection.

Franklin Street Insurance Services Senior Director Evan Seacat agreed that insurance is a key consideration. His office insures almost 30,000 units in Florida. He said that buyers should factor in the long-term costs of insurance at the time of purchase. Whereas costs like electricity and payroll are relatively steady and easy to project, insurance prices can fluctuate more wildly.

“Eight years ago, property rates in South Florida were over double what they are now. They have come down after eight or nine years with no hurricanes,” Seacat said, but that trend could reverse and prices could shoot up again. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to carry insurance no matter what the price is.” 

Seacat said he is hopeful that insurance rates would not rise exponentially after Hurricane Irma, but he expects big changes to come to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Flood Insurance program.

“With Superstorm Sandy, and [Hurricane Harvey in] Houston, there’s going to be billions in payouts,” he said. “Now from Naples to the Keys, I would expect legislative changes and potential increases on the flood side down the road, because they have to come up with the money from somewhere.”

Consequently, Seacat said, investors should be cautious about projects in flood zones. Usually, lenders require that such projects carry significant insurance. But sometimes, no lender is involved, and developers opt to self-insure wind and flood risks, he said. As Hurricane Irma approached, he said, he had about 10 clients call and try to add wind coverage at the last minute, but insurers were not binding policies at that point.

“That is something we are going to be really studying — the risk of not having coverage versus having it,” Seacat said. “We have been lucky the last 12 years. A client called me yesterday and said, ‘this is it; things are changing.’ He owns 50 units in South Florida.”

Seacat said increasing insurance costs may make it more difficult to execute projects along the coast, and some insurance companies may opt to no longer offer coverage on barrier islands at all.

Read more at:


Franklin Street Names Nick Sanfilippo to Lead Project Management Division

Franklin Street is pleased to announce the appointment of construction management veteran Nick Sanfilippo as senior vice president of its Project Management division based in the company’s Atlanta office. Sanfilippo will direct comprehensive project management and consulting services for both investor and occupier clients across all markets and product types, including retail, office, industrial, and multifamily.


Before coming to Franklin Street, Sanfilippo was a director leading a team of project managers at DDR Corp., where he successfully completed projects totaling over $120 million and nearly two million square feet of tenant build-outs across multiple markets and project types. He has more than 15 years of experience in building and leading project management teams, consistently creating value for his clients ranging from tenant build-outs to redevelopment projects to new developments.

Having worked with top national and local retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Ulta, Ross, Chipotle, TJX Companies and more, Sanfilippo has a vast knowledge of the current retail market with experience across the real estate pipeline, from preconstruction and construction operations expertise to final cost analysis.

Franklin Street’s real estate team is nimble, smart and efficient, while making a significant mark on commercial real estate here in the Southeast and beyond,” said Sanfilippo. “I’m thrilled to join this company and forge a new path with this highly motivated team. It’s a truly exciting time to be in the industry and create tremendous value as we work in-step with our clients, especially as the current market conditions are ripe for our clients to expand.”

Sanfilippo is a prominent member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the Buckhead Club, and the Association of Young Real Estate Professionals. He currently serves on the ICSC Next Generation Chair Committee. Sanfilippo earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a Master’s of Business Administration in Real Estate from Georgia State University. He is a licensed real estate salesperson in Georgia.

About Franklin Street:
Celebrating more than 10 years in the business, Franklin Street is a family of full-service commercial real estate companies focused on delivering value-add 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.


Justin Berryman Joins Franklin Street’s Miami Office as Director of Retail Division

Franklin Street, a full-service, vertically integrated commercial real estate firm, has named Justin Berryman as Director for Retail Landlord Services in the Miami office.  He transferred from the company’s Atlanta office to join the retail leasing team in South Florida, covering Miami-Dade and Broward County.

Berryman specializes in landlord representation of retail properties.  He has experience with power shopping centers, grocery-store anchored plazas, new developments and mixed-use projects.   Altogether, he has been responsible for leasing more than 3 million square feet between Atlanta and South Florida.  

“Justin has already proven himself a winner with our company, and he brings an extensive network of industry contacts and deep market expertise to his new role,” said David Fleisher, Regional Managing Partner for Franklin Street in South Florida. “He will play a key role as Franklin Street continues to grow and expand our reach in the market. We are actively recruiting experienced brokers and new team members to help us accelerate our growth plans throughout South Florida.”

Franklin Street has a best-in-class retail landlord and tenant representation platform across Florida, so I look forward to further expanding that business line here in South Florida,” Berryman said.  “This is such a retail-rich region where most national brands want to have a presence. The opportunities for us are endless.”  

Berryman has a wealth of industry knowledge in commercial real estate, including site selection, development, leasing, management, acquisition and disposition of both retail and multifamily assets.   He works with a variety of local, regional and national clients, including Kimco, Westwood Financial, Armstrong Development Properties, Inc., and Sandor Development.  He is currently the exclusive leasing agent for the Shops of San Marco, a Publix-anchored shopping center at 13900 Jog Road in Delray Beach.   

Prior to joining Franklin Street, Berryman was responsible for managing and leasing shopping centers throughout the Atlanta area.  In 2010, he started a partnership that invested in distressed residential and multifamily properties, achieving double-digit returns for his investors. Berryman began his career with Marcus and Millichap as a Retail Investment Sales Associate.  

In 2015 and 2016, Berryman earned Franklin Street’s Sales Achievement Award and was named Rookie of the Year in 2014 for his outstanding sales results.  He was named a 2015 Emerging Leader in Retail by Real Estate Forum and a CoStar Power Broker in 2014 and 2015. 

Berryman earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship from Auburn University and played for the school’s football team. 

About Franklin Street: Celebrating more than 10 years in the business, Franklin Street is a family of full-service commercial real estate companies focused on delivering value-add 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. Learn more about Franklin Street at

Awards & Recognition

Meet the Up & Comers 2017: Under 30

Zachary Ames
Director, Franklin Street

In 2016, Ames finished among Franklin Street’s top 10 highest grossing revenue salespeople. He was the youngest professional in the group by more than six years and the only honoree under the age of 30. To date in 2017, his revenue is on track to surpass 2016 and will again be among the firm’s top 10 producers.


Appetite for Multifamily Communities Translates to Transactions Large & Small

Excerpted from Daily Business Review.

Within two weeks of bringing a 65-unit apartment complex in Fort Lauderdale’s Dorsey-Riverbend neighborhood to market, Franklin Street had toured the real estate 30 times with interested buyers.

Both regional and out-of-state investors were drawn to the 1972-built North Fork Gardens property when it hit the market in March, said Hernando Perez, director of multifamily investment sales with Franklin Street.

The apartment complex northeast of Interstate 95 and Broward Boulevard traded for $6.9 million in July, setting a price record for the neighborhood at about $107,500 per unit.

For full story, visit


Southside Office Space Trades At Significant Market Premium

Pablo Oaks Office Park on Jacksonville’s Southside, has traded hands. The office park sold for $177.50 price per square foot, which is significantly above the Jacksonville average of $78.50 per square foot for class A office space.

Franklin Street brokered the sale of a high-end suburban office building. The seller is Triad Financial—whose real estate entity is Cardon Pablo Oaks, LLC. The buyer is Loyalsock, LLC, DBA Capital Staffing Florida. The commercial real estate property sold for $1.78 million.

For full story, visit