Just off Independence Boulevard, workers are resurrecting an old Super Kmart into a new incarnation: A call center and office space, the latest example of owners finding new uses for a defunct big-box store.

Over on Arrowood Road, a former Walmart is also being reshaped into office space and a call center. And on Freedom Drive, workers are renovating another former Kmart into a charter school.

It’s happening across the U.S.: More developers are looking at how to creatively reuse empty big-box stores, titans of the American retail landscape that now face ever-increasing pressure from online retailers and specialty shops. Elsewhere, empty stores have become libraries, gyms, even churches.

“It’s a cool repurposing of the buildings,” said Tom Fitzgerald, vice president at JLL, which is marketing the former Super Kmart, now known as INQ@2401.

The interior of a former Kmart and Steve & Barry’s store on Sardis Road North in Charlotte, NC. The store is one of several vacant big box retailers that’s getting a new life – in this case, as office space. (PHOTO CREDIT: Ely Portillo Charlotte Observer)

The store was most recently a Steve & Barry’s apparel shop, before that company went bankrupt. Verizon has signed a lease for more than half of the 165,000-square-foot building, and is planning to move hundreds of workers to a new call center there this fall.

Kmart is owned by Sears Holdings, a company that’s been shuttering hundreds of stores in a bid to survive. In January, the company added its Concord store to the list of closures. Department stores such as Macy’s and JCPenney have been aggressively closing stores to try to boost their results, while companies like Walmart and Target that opened thousands of new mega-stores in recent decades are throttling back their store counts, trimming unprofitable locations.

And when those stores close, they can leave a big hole – especially when they’re standalone stores surrounded by acres and acres of parking. The empty parking lots and giant, fading shadows of store logos are hard to miss, and they send an unmistakable signal: Hey, this place is struggling.

But the very things that make empty big-box stores such prominent blights when they fold can also make them attractive targets for redevelopment. High ceilings, totally open floor plans and walls that can be knocked out for big windows mean the buildings work as office space. And the huge parking lots that the buildings come with mean they can offer exceptionally high amounts of parking free to employees – eight spaces or so per 1,000 square feet, well above what even most suburban office parks provide. All those parking spaces and wide-open floor plans mean tenants can fit a large number of employees into a dense arrangement of workstations, making an empty Kmart or Walmart particularly conducive to rebirth as a call center.

That was part of the allure for White Oak Real Estate Advisors, which bought a former Walmart on East Arrowood Road for $3.8 million last month. The building had been owned by the adjacent Victory Christian Center, which used it for various purposes, including a Salvation Army center. Now, work is underway to turn the building into high-density office and call center space. The building has a high parking ratio – again, eight spots per 1,000 square feet of office space – and is also adjacent to the Arrowood Station on the Blue Line light rail.

Jessica Brown of Cushman & Wakefield, who is marketing the property to prospective tenants, said that combination of light rail access and lots of parking means companies can fit even more employees into the building.

“You can stack the density even greater if you need to,” said Brown. Another important advantage a reused retail building has over a new structure: Quicker construction and fewer delays. You know for certain you can deliver it within a specific time frame. The ability to deliver quickly, with no variables, is huge.”

The Movement Foundation is on track to open a new charter school this year on Freedom Drive, in a defunct Kmart the group purchased for $4.3 million. The nonprofit, affiliated with Movement Mortgage, is spending almost $8 million more renovating and refurbishing the property.

‘It Was In Terrible Shape’

When Peter Tonon saw the vacant Super Kmart on Sardis Road North, his first thought was: “When I moved here 22 years ago, that was the first place I bought diapers for the kids. It was in terrible shape,” said Tonon, a partner at Mainstreet Capital Partners. But he saw potential in the site, which he bought in 2015 with DRA Advisors for $3.4 million. Now, with a new roof, HVAC system and windows, and Verizon leasing more than 90,000 square feet, Tonon said the investment is paying off. About 72,000 square feet are still available.

Even with the renovation costs, Tonon said buying a dead big-box store is more cost-effective than building new, especially with construction costs rising. Also, there aren’t a lot of sites that large within the city limits that have so much parking and a large structure already built.

“We’re in it for a lot less than it would cost to build this kind of thing,” said Tonon. “To get 24 acres and lay out that parking, wow. That’s pretty tough to do. Maybe out in the sticks.”


Source: Miami Herald

Fort Lauderdale will offer developers the opportunity to build an entertainment/athletic venue, plus potential commercial development, around Lockhart Stadium and Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Lockhart Stadium will be part of a request for proposals for a development lease in Fort Lauderdale

On Tuesday evening, the City Commission approved a resolution declaring its intent to lease the 64-acre site at the northwest corner of Commercial Boulevard and Northwest 12th Avenue. It’s on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

City Manager Lee Feldman said his staff is preparing to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for a lease and development agreement on the site within 10 days. The deadline to respond will be July 6.

Feldman said the RFP will call for an entertainment and/or athletic venue with at least four fields that can be used for soccer and lacrosse. At least one of the two stadiums must remain and be renovated, although the other stadium could be removed, Feldman said. No residential development would be allowed on the site, but there could be commercial development that contributes to the entertainment/athletic uses, he said.

Lockhart Stadium has a lease with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers soccer team through Dec. 31. Fort Lauderdale Stadium previously hosted MLB spring training, but has not been frequently used in recent years. The RFP will give the developer the option of demolishing either stadium, but not both. The RFP will also cover vacant land south of Lockhart Stadium.

“The city owns the property and we are looking to have the lease generate income for city and provide for an economic engine,” Feldman said.

The RFP applications must be submitted to Fort Lauderdale’s procurement division. The sealed bids would be reviewed by the city commission on Aug. 22.


Source: SFBJ

A boom in new hotels suggests happy days are here again for tourism.

About a dozen hotels will open in Broward this year — the biggest surge in the county in the past decade.

  • Home2 Suites by Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port, Dania Beach — 130 rooms
  • Plunge Beach HotelLauderdale-by-the-Sea  — 163 rooms
  • Hyde Resort & Residences, Hollywood—407 rooms
  • Hampton Inn Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach—102-room hotel expected to open on May 26
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Downtown Fort Lauderdale 108-room hotel slated to open in December
  • Residence Inn Center Port Business Park, Pompano Beach—112-room hotel in will open in the June
  • Tryp by Wyndham Maritime Fort Lauderdale—150-rooms
  • Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort—290 rooms
  • Dania alone could welcome four new hotels, including Morrison 143-rooms; Comfort Suites Downtown Dania—104-rooms; Wyndham Garden—142-rooms; and a former Sheraton rebranding to Le Meridien.

It’s “super-exciting,” said Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitor Bureau, the county’s official tourism marketer. “And it’s due largely to an influx of affluent travelers and greater recognition of the destination as an attractive and competitively priced place to do business and enjoy the benefits of our appealing lifestyle and surroundings.”

Preliminary visitation numbers released by the bureau show Broward welcomed 12.27 million domestic visitors in 2016, up 4 percent from 2015, according to preliminary numbers from the bureau. A million international travelers visited last year, excluding Canadians.

Hoteliers and industry analysts seem fairly confident the county can easily absorb the room surge. But some areas may fare better than others.

“Most of the new supply of rooms is not on the beach. The beach will fill up first, so Fort Lauderdale will be fine,” said Christian Charre, senior vice president of Miami-based CBRE Hotels. “For limited service hotels on the outskirts, the situation may be more competitive … still travel is up, and the expansion at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is working so 1,800-plus more rooms is not major. I think it should be easily absorbed.”

So far this year, Broward’s tourist arrivals are about even with 2016, but room rates and occupancy in traditional hotels are down, Ritter noted.

Currency and economic woes in source markets like Canada and Brazil helped to keep some would-be visitors at home. And as non-traditional accommodation alternatives such as Airbnb and HomeAway become increasingly popular with travelers, traditional hotel occupancy has taken a hit.

“The hotels are coming on line as Broward becomes a more powerful and attractive market,” said Daniel Peek, senior managing director at commercial real estate firm HFF. “Miami has become more expensive, busy and crowded, while Fort Lauderdale offers a different experience. Fort Lauderdale has seen dramatic changes in 20 years in terms of investments on the beach, the cruise port and airport and in retail, all of which bodes well for future tourism demand. I anticipate that over the next 10 to 20 years, Fort Lauderdale will continue to be a very attractive market. It’s a pretty dynamic market, generally speaking.”

“South Florida is still doing great,” in terms of tourism. Patel pointed to expanded airline service, a strong cruise market and the soon-to-launch Brightline passenger express train service,” said Jay Patel, president and CEO of Luckey’s, which has eight hotels in Broward and recently broke ground on its ninth.

Other hoteliers like Doug Barrow, general manager at the newly opened Plunge Beach Hotel, also aren’t too worried about the influx of new rooms, having experienced rapid absorption of even more rooms in other top Florida tourism destinations such as Orlando.

“This area has such a strong demand from leisure travelers all over the world and so I think there’s still plenty of room for growth in hotels in these parts,” Barrow said.

Ritter is optimistic about the summer. “We’re going to be better than OK,” she said. “Americans will travel more domestically than in summers past. So I think summer looks good in terms of visitor numbers.”


Source: SunSentinel

McCraney Property Company sold one of three industrial facilities at the Vista Business Park in West Palm Beach for $8.9 million.

The Vista Business Park in West Palm Beach

Berger Commercial Realty/CORFAC International represented the buyer, who paid $127 per square foot, for the fully occupied industrial building at 2361 and 2365 Vista Parkway.

Berger also retained its position as exclusive leasing agent and property manager for the 70,000-square-foot building.

The property’s new owner is McNab Commerce, a long-established partnership between commercial real estate developers Austin Forman and Jack Loos.

The multi-tenant building is a small bay facility with front-load, grade-level doors and ceilings 18 feet high.

Vista Business Park is a 500-acre, master-planned business park near Interstate 95, Palm Beach International Airport and downtown West Palm Beach.


Source: The Real Deal

Developers of a planned mixed-use project on one of the last pieces of agricultural land in Palm Beach County just moved a step closer toward building the project.

The Palm Beach County Commission on Wednesday approved a multiple land-use amendment for the Johns Glades West property. Schmier & Fuerring Properties, Giles Capital Group and Rosemurgy Properties want to develop the 38-acre property, at 95th Avenue and Glades Road just east of State Road 7 and west of Boca Raton, into a mix of apartments, restaurant and retail space.

According to the county’s approval, the developers, who declined to comment, could potentially build 304 apartments and about 165,000 square feet of commercial and/or retail space in the as yet unnamed development.

But that number is raised to 456 units with a bonus density. All multifamily developers in unincorporated Palm Beach County are required to build workforce housing, and since the developers plan to build 25 percent of the apartments as working housing — more than required — they are entitled to a bonus density of 50 percent. That translates into an additional 152 units.

The multiple land-use amendment was approved with certain conditions, such as an agreement to limit the bulk of potential traffic to off-peak hours, a feat to be accomplished by an emphasis on entertainment and restaurant venues that would attract more traffic at night than during the day.

The next step is a rezoning hearing on May 25. The land is currently zoned for agriculture with a future land-use designation of low-rise residential (three units per acre). The developers are requesting to change the zoning to higher density residential (eight dwelling units per acre) and commercial.


Source: The Real Deal