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Business Observer: Apartment deals surge throughout the Gulf Coast

Apartment deals took a hit throughout Florida this past summer, as COVID-19 fueled uncertainty and caused financing to pull back on commitments.

But since the start of October, multifamily rental transactions throughout Central and Southwest Florida have roared back — so much so that deal volume could eclipse the final three months of 2019.

Since Oct. 1, more than 3,000 apartment units have traded hands throughout the Gulf Coast, an analysis of transactions shows, with more than $400 million being invested.

In Southwest Florida, for instance, GMF Capital earlier this month bought the 200-unit Wild Pines of Naples complex, for $25.4 million, and Pedcor Homes Corp. acquired the 188-unit Naples 701 community, also in Naples, for $24 million.

“The buyer recognized that the dynamic location and the lack of workforce housing in the area will keep the property producing excellent returns for years to come,” says Darron Kattan, managing director of multifamily investment sales for Tampa-based commercial real estate brokerage firm Franklin Street, whose team sold Wild Pines.

Read the full article from Business Observer.

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Striking it RICH: Franklin Street’s Tom Rybak Keeps Things Light

Welcome to the next post in our “Striking it RICH” blog series! This series features Atlas clients, vendors, employees and supporters who embody one or more of our company’s Core Values:





This month’s post features Tom Rybak at Franklin Streetan Atlas client representing the Core Value of Humor.

About Franklin Street

Established in 2006, Franklin Street is one of the fastest-growing full-service commercial real estate firms in the Southeast. The firm offers commercial real estate brokerage, landlord and tenant representation, capital advisory, insurance, property management and project management services.

Headquartered in Tampa, Franklin Street has five locations in Florida and one in Atlanta, and 325 employees. In 2019, the firm exceeded $1.1 billion in company-wide sales volume.

IT at Franklin Street

Franklin Street’s IT team includes three full-time professionals, including Chief Information Officer Tom Rybak. Rybak brought in Atlas Professional Services several years ago to assist his internal IT team at Franklin Street with special projects.

“Atlas has helped us with things like firewall issues that were beyond our knowledge, some domain controller issues and also with helping us think through bigger-picture planning,” Rybak said. “Atlas has been a great partner. It’s like asking a friend for advice. I trust them and know they’re providing honest feedback.”

A Laughing Matter

Anyone who has had direct experience with Atlas’s company culture or follows us on social media knows humor is a key part of who we are. Rybak says keeping things light is a trait he embraces at Franklin Street, too.

“For me, humor comes naturally. I’m fairly sarcastic. I always say it’s a sign of intelligence,” Rybak jokes.

Since Rybak joined Franklin Street 10 years ago – originally as IT Director while also overseeing the marketing department for several years – he’s concentrated on creating an environment that “doesn’t feel like work.” From embracing humor to hosting happy hours and themed department parties to playing music in the office, Rybak likes to keep things casual.

“Of course, there’s still a level of respect and accountability that we expect from our team, but we have a lot of fun and a lot of team-building activities,” Rybak said. “We pride ourselves on our culture and our people.”

Similarly, the Atlas office is equipped with a pool table, video games, lounge space and is the site of frequent birthday and holiday celebrations. And, there is joking aplenty, with co-workers and clients, like Rybak.

“I have Polish grandparents and Tom is Polish and speaks the language fluently,” said Atlas CEO Greg Zolkos. “When Tom needs help our help with something, he has to use the code word: pierogi.”

To conclude with a quote from former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower: “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

View the full article here.


Shopping Center Business: Lenders Bearish on Retail Sector Except for ‘Prime’ Assets, Says Expert Panel

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, retail and restaurant space has been severely impacted by government-mandated shutdowns. While some stay-at-home orders have been lifted, the sector has struggled to return to its pre-pandemic norms. As a result, lenders have shied away from retail, whether it be construction, refinancing or acquisition loans, according to an expert panel assembled by France Media, Inc.

Retail has “lost a lot of favor” with lenders, said Pierce Mayson, managing principal of SRS Real Estate Partners, during a webinar panel titled “Southeast Retail Investment Outlook: Will Retail Investment Activity Bounce Back in 2021?” Southeast Real Estate Business and Shopping Center Business jointly hosted the webinar on Monday, Nov. 16.

“There is still some money out there for retail, but it’s few and far between,” said Mayson.

Joining Mayson on the panel were Fred Victor, vice president of capital markets and investment sales at Transwestern; Greg Matus, senior vice president of investment sales at Franklin Street; Jeff Enck, associate director of capital investments at Stan Johnson Co.; and moderator Craig Thompson, partner at accounting firm Carr Riggs & Ingram.

One telltale sign that banks are bearish on the retail real estate sector is the fact that they are requiring borrowers to bring more equity to the table. Some national banks are capping deals at 50 percent loan-to-value (LTV) for acquisition and development financing. According to Matus, pre-pandemic LTV ratios were approximately 60 or 70 percent.

“A lot of owners are trying to refinance properties that have problems, so banks are running scared,” said Matus. “It’s just a really tricky market when it comes to debt.”

Read the full recap and watch the webinar playback here.

Featured News In the News Why Insurance Rates are Rising for CRE Owners

Right now, commercial property owners are dealing with rising rates in both property and liability insurance. 

“In the past eight months, the umbrella rates have gone up, and that’s attributable to the financial capacity available in the market,” says Garet Marr, director of Insurance Services for Franklin Street, which has an insurance portfolio of 400,000 multifamily units and 30 million square feet of commercial space. “There’s a low-interest-rate environment, and carriers depend on that for investment purposes.”

Additionally, insurers are getting hit by a series of lawsuits. “The litigation environment in the country has gone in a direction that’s not favorable to claimants lawsuits,” Marr says. “Settlements that were maybe $200,000 or $300,000 in the past for a terrible situation are now $1-million plus. Settlements that were once $1-million plus are now settling for $10 million. As soon as these issues go into some type of mediation or settlement, it ends up being a largely inflated claim just due to the legal environment.”

For real estate owners, specifically apartment owners, the umbrella insurance market has been an enormous challenge, according to Marr. 

“People are seeing 100%-plus increases, and that’s because an umbrella policy might have historically been $10 or $20 unit,” Marr says. “Now, they’re $30, $40 or $50 for a unit, and that’s just if there are no losses. If there’s been a bad loss or a couple of significant losses, which happens if you own a large number of multifamily units, it has been a challenge. That’s what people have been seeing.”

To get the best results in this environment, Marr says that CRE owners need to take a unique approach to the marketplace and leave no stone unturned from upon renewals and when buying deals.

Read the full article on

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MultifamilyBiz: Franklin Street Brokers $25.4 Million Sale of 200-Unit Wild Pines of Naples Apartment Community on Florida’s Southwest Coast

 Franklin Street has brokered the sale of Wild Pines of Naples Apartments in the affluent Naples market on Florida’s southwest coast. The 200-unit, garden-style apartment community sold for $25.35 million, or $126,750 per unit.

Franklin Street’s Tampa-based multifamily investment sales team of Darron Kattan, Zach Ames, Kevin Kelleher, Avery Jordan, and Mark Savarese arranged the sale on behalf of the seller, Axonic Properties, and the buyer, GMF Capital. Both firms are based in New York.

“This is a well-located asset with 52% affordable restrictions,” said Kattan. “The buyer recognized that the dynamic location and the lack of workforce housing in the area will keep the property producing excellent returns for years to come. GMF Capital secured new financing and provided hard money on contract, while closing at the contract price. The seller was able to realize a quick turnaround after purchasing two years ago by transforming operations and significantly increasing the asset’s cash flows.”

“Despite the unusual marketing circumstances due to Covid-19, Darron and Franklin Street successfully procured a buyer and achieved our exit price expectation for this asset,” said Jonathan Shechtman, managing principal at Axonic Properties.

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OBJ: The pandemic has given local food trucks more brick-and-mortar opportunities. Here’s why.

Joel Feliciano drove his food truck for months before he discovered a deal to park his business.

The CEO of Orlando-based health-focused eatery Avofuel LLC saw his revenue grow during the pandemic and wanted a permanent place to cater to his customers. He found a spot near the Florida Mall at 1718 W. Sand Lake Road where the landlord offered him a lease that was more favorable for his business than if he would have negotiated a lease before the pandemic. He plans to open the restaurant next summer.

“Right now, not a whole lot of people are looking to get into this type of business, and a lot of landlords are willing to negotiate terms of a lease,” Feliciano said.

Terrence Hart, senior director at Franklin Street of Orlando, said he’s also seen an uptick in food truck operators and other mom-and-pop restaurants looking at physical locations during the pandemic. These small businesses have found many second-generation restaurant spaces, which are usually more affordable to build out for new concepts.

Landlords also find comfort in the social media following of these local businesses — and are willing to take the risk signing leases with concepts with sizable digital followers.

“Owners are more open to these grassroots restaurant concepts that are community driven,” Hart said.

Read the full article from the Orlando Business Journal.

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Laura Gonzales Honored in Connect Media’s 2020 Women in Real Estate Awards

Franklin Street is pleased to congratulate Laura Gonzales, Director of our Capital Advisors division in Jacksonville, on being named a winner of Connect Media’s 2020 “Women in Real Estate Awards!”

Here are just a few reasons Laura received this must-deserved honor, according to Connect Media:

Gonzales joined Franklin Street in 2019 and has been recognized by her peers as being a leader/mentor from day one. With her expertise in the banking sector, she has provided incredible mentorship to different levels of employees through Franklin Street’s different lines of business and offices. Leveraging her knowledge and relationship with local developers has allowed her to fill her pipeline with debt and equity transactions.

Read the full writeup on this award from Connect Media.

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Multi-Housing News: GMF Capital Acquires South Florida Community for $25M

Axonic Properties has sold Wild Pines, a 200-unit, garden-style community in Naples, Fla., for $25.3 million. Franklin Street represented both the seller and the buyer, GMF Capital.

Built in phases between the 1960s and the 1990s, Wild Pines comprises one-bedroom units averaging 600 square feet. Of the community’s 200 units, 104 are rent/income-restricted apartments. Common-area amenities include a business center, gym, laundry facilities, two swimming pools and several picnic areas. The property also has 200 parking spaces. 

Read the full article from Multi-Housing News.

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Nov. 16: Join Shopping Center Business and Franklin Street for a Virtual Panel on Southeast Retail Investment

Shopping Center Business will host a virtual panel on the future of retail investment in the Southeast on Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. Sign up to hear insights from Franklin Street’s Greg Matus, Senior Vice President of Investment Sales, along with a panel of top real estate executives, on the following topics:

  • What 2021 will bring to the Southeast in terms of retail property investment activity.
  • How the region continues to address the havoc of the pandemic, including retail and restaurant closures, extended periods of limited capacity or operation during reopening, increasing e-commerce sales, bankruptcies, job losses and other factors.
  • Assessing market value for retail assets, as buyers, sellers and their investment sales partners seek to determine logical pricing after much volatility in the retail sector.
  • Financing — as lenders and other capital sources vary on how they underwrite multi-tenant, single-tenant and other retail acquisitions.

Click here to sign up for this complimentary webinar.

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OBJ: Mergers and Diversification expected to be key focuses for CRE Firms in 2021

More mergers and acquisitions may increase in the commercial real estate industry next year as these types of deals in general may see a spike.

Rumors are swirling about these potential deals in the commercial real estate sector, which makes sense because the cost of capital is low and stress is high, said Paul Ellis CEO of Orlando-based Foundry Commercial LLC. Those are the ingredients that typically are present before more mergers and acquisitions.

Meanwhile, commercial real estate firms will face other changes too. For example, more commercial real estate firms will likely realize how important it is to have diversity in their platforms — especially as the pandemic has hurt the office, retail and hospitality sectors, said Kurt Keaton, managing line president at Tampa-based Franklin Street. Diversification helps keep brokers and other workers occupied when one sector slows.

“That’s worked well [at Franklin Street] and helps build a collaborative culture,” Keaton said.

Read the full story from the Orlando Business Journal.