The Scripps Research Institute has been recognized as the most influential research institution in the world, ranking above internationally renowned names such as Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The California– and South Florida-based biotechnology hub topped the Nature Index 2017 Innovation supplement, which aims to shed light on the impact of academic research on innovation. The annual rank was just released by a global cyberinfrastructure organization called The Lens, analyzes data to measure research quality and its broad influence on inventions.

Founded in San DiegoTSRI launched a Florida campus in 2003, with startup costs supported by a one-time $310 million grant by the state legislature.

The research outpost has since earned tens of millions of dollars in grants for research initiatives, becoming an anchor of a growing biotech community in northern Palm Beach CountyTSRI scientists have more than 1,000 patents and seven FDA-approved drugs to their credit.

“This week’s accolades serve to highlight these achievements,” said Jamie Williamson, TSRI’s Executive Vice President for Research and Academic Affairs. “TSRI scientists share a common goal of improving public health through scientific discovery, and, importantly, improving the way we make those discoveries. We are proud to be recognized for the profound influence our science has had on other researchers and laboratories around the world.”

A key metric in the Nature Index ranking is publications. More than 40 percent of all TSRI’s natural science articles appear in the Nature Index. The average across the 200 institutions listed is 21.9 percent.


Source: SFBJ

Though it would have been miles from Oakland Park’s downtown, elected officials rejected a proposed self-storage center earlier this week, saying they want to nurture development near neighborhoods as carefully as they’re doing so downtown.

Storage complex rendering

The three-story, architecturally ornate self-storage center would have been fine with the neighbors next to it, off Oakland Park Boulevard west of Interstate 95. But city officials said they could do better.

Oakland Park is in the midst of a development transformation — or at least an attempt at it. City officials say they want better development — higher quality housing and the businesses that would follow.

“This request to me is asking this body to relent on that hard work we put into unifying our city, and to renege on the commitments that we made,” Commissioner Michael Carn said.

The vote against rezoning for the project was 4-1, with Commissioner Matthew Sparks the only supporter.

The three-story complex was proposed for 2.5 acres at 2203 W. Oakland Park Blvd., behind a Burger King restaurant and kidney dialysis center, in front of the Sailboat Pointe Condominium, which issued a letter of support.

Mayor John Adornato said the city’s intense focus on improving downtown development standards will eventually lift up the other Oakland Park neighborhoods, like the one where the storage center was proposed.

In May, the city took the rare step of enacting a temporary building moratorium for small housing projects downtown, in order to change development rules.

“The work is just one in a menu of things the city is doing as it re-evaluates where we are at as a city and most importantly, who we want to become,” City Manager David Hebert said. “This is a small piece of a very large whole, and we begin with this step.”

Until Oct. 18, no applications to build townhouses, duplexes, villas and garden apartments are to be processed for the downtown area. The long, thin downtown zone stretches from Oakland Park Boulevard to about 43rd Street, straddling Dixie Highway and the railroad tracks, between 10th and 13th avenues.

The city is fostering a culinary district downtown, often citing the Funky Budddha Brewery at 1201 NE 38th St. as an anchor. A Lucky’s Market will open there in late August

After suspending property owners’ rights with the moratorium, the city hired consultant Leigh Kerr and Associates to study the downtown. He issued his recommendations. Kerr suggested the city build its population via new housing.

“New homes would be a base to support business because retail follows residential,” Kerr said.

By the time development is allowed to resume in October, the city hopes to have changed development laws to encourage the small housing developments to better connect with the street and be more pleasing to the pedestrians who might pass them. Gone would be chain-link fences, vast parking lots in front of buildings and buildings set 10 or 15 feet back from the street.

“The rules discussed and the moratorium itself pertain just to small-scale housing developments, not big multi-family apartment complexes, which the city favors,” David Hebert said

In another legal change aimed at elevating the city’s image, commissioners tentatively agreed to phase out what a city memo called “unsightly” barbed wire or razor wire fencing, except at business that are zoned “light industrial,” like an auto yard.

The vote also would spiff up requirements for outdoor storage yards at commercial businesses, so fencing hides the clutter. Businesses would have until 2020 to follow the new rules, which need a final approval at a future meeting.

Click here to view the SunSentinel news video ‘Oakland Park Nixes Development Project


Source: SunSentinel

In the largest corporate expansion deal Palm Beach County has seen since 2009, Boca Raton health care technology company Modernizing Medicine has pledged to hire more than 800 new employees and invest $15 million in the local economy in the next five years.

Dozens gathered at the company’s headquarters on FAU Boulevard for the announcement, bookended by remarks from local public officials and Gov. Rick Scott.

“There’s just not many companies in the world growing as fast as Modernizing Medicine,” Scott said. “And if you’re a governor running on a jobs platform, you love people who create new jobs.”

Dan Cane co-founded ModMed in 2010 with dermatologist Dr. Michael Sherling with the intent to simplify the day-to-day work of physician groups. The company made a name for itself in the vibrant health care segment of technology by creating a cloud-based electronic health record software that adapts to individual clients’ routine tasks to best suit their needs.

Since nabbing $231 million in investment capital from New York private equity firm Warburg Pincus in May, ModMed has also begun expansion into telemedicine, with plans to target specialty practices, such as dermatology.

All told, the 550-person company has raised more than $321 million to date, with revenue swelling beyond the $100 million mark. This week’s incentive deal, brokered among state, county and local agencies, brings an additional $6 million.

Per the incentives package, ModMed is expected to invest millions into the economy with a second Boca HQ at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus and create 838 jobs with average annual wages between about $55,000 and $65,000.

“For comparison, the average Palm Beach County resident makes about $50,000 per year,” said Kelly Smallridge, president of the Palm Beach County Business Development Board, which helped broker the deal. “The expansion of technology-based companies in Palm Beach reflects a new era for both the county and the field of economic development. Innovative firms such as ModMed have helped transform public perception of the community, traditionally viewed almost exclusively as a leisure destination. They also reflect a shift in how economic growth is measured. Long gone are the days when you’d get a 50,000-square-foot user hiring 500 people. Now we’re getting 30,000-square-foot users, or smaller, hiring maybe 50 to 100 people. That’s forcing us to shift our thinking. If you just count jobs, you could bring in average jobs with average wages. Or you can focus on really transforming your economy by bringing innovation-based companies.”

For his part, Cane is optimistic about the role innovation – and ModMed‘s innovation, in particular – will play in bolstering business.

“Technology can be used to transform industries and automate and eliminate jobs, but only human beings can innovate, create concepts, revolutionize industries,” Cane said. “And health care is one of the most challenging industries. So if we can do a good job of bending the needle, the payout for this country could be tremendous.”

The last time a Palm Beach County company expanded to this scale was in 2009 when cosmetic manufacturer Oxygen Development secured a $22.5 million government loan and pledged to add 400 jobs in five years.


Source: SFBJ

he Great Recession choked office construction for nearly a decade, but developers now see a market starved for space.

Edison Pembroke Pines rendering

Atlanta-based TPA Group says it’s planning a 330,000-square-foot office park along Interstate 75 at Southwest 145th Avenue near The Shoppes at Pembroke Gardens retail center. The Edison Pembroke Pines will consist of two, three-story buildings. A central clubhouse will have a gym, meeting space and a café.

“The project still needs final city approval, but the 165,000-square-foot first phase is expected to be ready by the first quarter of 2019,”  said Greg Martin, principal at Avison Young, the firm handling marketing and leasing. “The overall market in southwest Broward is strong. There isn’t a whole lot of quality space that’s available for tenants out there.”

Martin and Avison Young Vice President Justin Cope say they expect the project to attract technology and health care companies, among other users.

TPA has two other similar office parks under construction in Lake Mary, near Orlando, and Alpharetta, Ga.

Adjacent to the Edison project, Duke Realty recently completed a 143,000-square-foot office building. Duke was planning to build more offices in the area but ultimately sold the land to TPA.

The Stiles real estate firm is leasing and marketing a 25-story, 395,836-square-foot tower at 201 E. Las Olas Blvd. in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s expected to open in the fall of 2020.

In Palm Beach County, the Related Cos. of New York has proposed a 25-story tower along South Flagler Drive.

“With the lack of development over the last 10 years, the market is due to see some new product,” Cope said. “There are strong fundamentals. Rents are increasing and vacancies are coming down.”


Source: SunSentinel

Michael Rauch and Tom Robertson, Senior Managing Partners with CRE Florida Partners, Rauch Robertson & Co., represented the owner, The General Electric Company (GE), in the sale of a laboratory/ manufacturing building located at 3041 Gateway Drive in Pompano Beach, Florida.

The property sold for $775,000 on a 6.9% capitalization rate.

The 10,068-square-foot laboratory/manufacturing building has been owned and operated by GE since 2000, when it developed the proprietary processes for manufacturing of synthetic diamonds.

The tenant, Sandvik Inc., which purchased the proprietary process from GE through a series of acquisitions, is a world leader in the development and production of synthetic diamond and cubic boron nitride products for industrial applications such as cutting, machining, oil and gas drilling, grinding, rock drilling and wire drawing. Sandvik is a publically-traded International company with over 47,000 employees worldwide.

Tom Robertson

“This is the fourth asset in South Florida that we have exclusively represented for GE,” commented Robertson. “Industrial investment inventory is low in South Florida and CRE Florida Partners is currently working with several buyers looking for similar properties in Broward and Palm Beach counties.”

Michael Rauch

“Identifying quality industrial/distribution investment properties in South Florida continues to be a challenge and we are continuously sourcing these properties for our clients,” added Rauch.



It is one of Bob Swindell’s favorite questions: Where was the first smartphone created?

“The first smartphone wasn’t born out of a garage in Cupertino,” said Swindell, who is the CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward County’s economic development arm.

Silicon Valley can’t have it all.

It was actually created in IBM, BellSouth and Motorola’s Broward and Palm Beach labs in the early 1990s. The first IBM personal computer was also born in South Florida.

Broward County has not historically been associated with technological innovation, instead focusing most of its messaging on its tourism assets and bustling hospitality sector. But in recent years, Swindell has been working to change the narrative in an effort to diversify Broward County and make it the kind of destination that can continue to attract the visionaries who developed the smartphone — as well as tourists looking for a sunny beach vacation.

Since Swindell grew up in Oakland Park, the county’s job outlook has changed considerably, he said.

“When I came back from the University of Florida, a lot of my friends from high school didn’t come back,” Swindell said. “When they would get home for Christmas break or other holidays, we’d catch up and I’d ask, ‘Why aren’t you back here?’ The perception at the time was there were no opportunities here, it really is only hospitality.”

Swindell, a small business owner who was the president of industrial supply company Champion Manufacturing for 18 years, sold the company to his business partner and made it his mission to change Broward’s offerings when he became CEO at the Alliance in 2009. The Alliance is a public/private partnership focused on creating a more diverse economy in Broward and adding high skilled jobs.

In 2016 alone, the Alliance facilitated 20 company relocations and expansions, leading to 2,646 new jobs. During Swindell’s tenure, the Alliance has helped create or retain 25,000 direct jobs. The county is now home to virtual reality startup Magic Leap, e-commerce pet supply company and tech heavyweights Citrix and Microsoft Latin America.

In April, Fort Lauderdale ranked first (tied with Dallas) as the metropolitan region with the highest year-over-year job growth in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But Swindell still feels that Broward has fallen short when it comes to telling its story, the one of a diverse economy that once was a central part of the technological revolution. On the Alliance’s recent trip to Austin, Texas, to learn of its tech culture, Swindell realized just how much Broward fell short in communicating its message.

“One of the takeaways from the trip to Austin is Texans like to boast. They are very proud of their state and they’ll talk about anything, they’ll make 10 days of drought sound like a good thing,” Swindell said. “We don’t have that. Floridians are more reserved in that, they are not as forward in their talks about what’s good about our community and I think we need to change that.”

In an interview with the Herald, Swindell reflected on his years with the Alliance, the road ahead to grow the tech community and curb brain drain in South Florida, and, of course, telling Broward’s story.

Miami Herald: Compare Broward now from eight years ago when you took the helm. What have been your biggest accomplishments in terms of developing the business community?

Bob Swindell: When I became CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, our goal was to help pull the region out of the economic downturn by creating, expanding, attracting and retaining high-wage jobs and capital investment across 31 independent municipalities. This was a daunting task, as the region’s unemployment rate reached more than 10.2 percent with more than 100,000 residents out of work. By leading a focused, organized effort to grow and diversify Broward’s economy, our community was not only able to fully rebound from the recession, but thrive as a mature economic engine. Today, Broward County has one of the lowest employment rates in the state at 3.8 percent and year-over-year private sector job growth of 28,900.

Eight years ago, Fort Lauderdale was a far more seasonal town with an economy that was largely driven by construction and tourism. Visitors would come and go while few thought of the city as a year-round destination. One of my main goals when I signed on with the Alliance was to lead a focused effort to expand Broward’s economy beyond tourism and strengthen and tell the story of and promote a more sustainable ‘cluster economy’ comprised of key growth industries such as technology, aviation, life sciences, marine and, of course, corporate relocations (a major initiative for us). Over the past eight years alone, the Alliance and its partners have helped create or retain more than 25,000 direct jobs which have yielded $2.1 billion in annual personal income and almost $11 billion in yearly economic impact.

In 2009, longtime Alliance champion and then-Nova Southeastern University President Ray Ferrero Jr. rounded up his peers, the top business leaders in Broward County ranging from AutoNation’s Mike Jackson to Wayne Huizenga, to Rick Case to Jordan Zimmerman and others, to form the Alliance’s CEO Council. By working directly with our greatest business minds, we were able to strategize how to best market the county as a business destination to a national audience.

The success of the CEO Council showed us that the more opportunities our business community has to collaborate, the greater our ability to move our economy forward in a purposeful unified direction.

Miami Herald: What business connections does Broward still need to develop, and what are the region’s current economic drivers?

Bob Swindell: While Broward was once known for its lure among spring breakers and beach vacationers, it is today more likely to draw business moguls and startup entrepreneurs who are attracted to the region’s warm weather, zero income tax and relative affordability compared to northeastern states. Arguably one of the most dynamic industries taking shape in the region is technology driven by local innovation.

Similar to Miami, Broward has become a breeding ground for startups and entrepreneurship. For example, the e-commerce pet supply company,, was recently acquired by PetSmart for a reported $3 billion. Broward is also home to Magic Leap, the virtual reality startup valued at over $4.5 billion, and JetSmarter, the fast-growing private jet company, which recently secured more than $100 million in funding. But while these standouts are capturing funding, we need to create a more robust ecosystem of venture capital to support all of the big ideas coming out of this region. As our tech cluster continues to mature and grow, the hope is that a VC infrastructure will inevitably follow suit, but the Alliance’s goal is to help make this happen sooner rather than later.

Life sciences, specifically pharma and medical devices are also major economic drivers for the region, with more than 1,500 South Florida bioscience institutions employing more than 26,000 people and generating $4 billion in revenue each year. The marine sector is also growing, yielding $8.8 billion in yearly economic impact and supporting 110,000 jobs. Aviation and aerospace is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to see growth.

Broward is a hub for both U.S. and Latin America corporate headquarters, with more than 200 headquarters based here, including AutoNation, JM Family Enterprises, Ecolab, Ultimate Software, Citrix, Wendy’s and Microsoft’s Latin America headquarters. This area is growing, but we still have work to do to expand our international market, which is a segment that we are actively working to grow and that Miami has done well to capture. We already have a robust travel and cargo infrastructure, as well as a centralized location and diverse workforce, all of which is an appealing draw for international and multinational companies.

Miami Herald: Broward is home to several major tech companies and Miami-Dade has also been working to develop its tech community. What has made Broward so attractive to companies like Microsoft and Citrix, and what suggestions do you have for Miami to do the same?

Bob Swindell: Broward County has a long and rich history in innovation. Fort Lauderdale has become a haven for tech companies ranging from established heavyweights like Citrix and Ultimate Software to startup sweethearts such as JetSmarter and Magic Leap. With over-saturation pushing many tech firms out of larger markets, we have seen an influx of tech companies and entrepreneurs relocating to Broward.

Miami has also been doing a great job in terms of leading the charge in introducing South Florida to a national tech audience. eMerge Americas especially is a major game changer for the region. What Miami and Broward should be doing now is leveraging each other’s strengths to raise awareness for the South Florida tech scene as a whole rather than operating within silos. By making tech recruitment a regional effort, all three counties will benefit, since as they say, a rising tide lifts all ships.

Miami Herald: How is Broward working to curb the brain drain — a major issue in Miami-Dade as well?

Bob Swindell: The best way to fight brain drain is to give people a reason to stay in the first place, and a way to make their mark in our community. That is why we have focused our efforts on creating a ‘brain trust’ among the region’s students, academic institutions, young professional groups and businesses.

For example, the Marine Research Hub, which is a partnership between the region’s four major universities, is inventorying hundreds of cutting-edge research projects from reef restoration and biomedicine, to fisheries and ecosystems. Technology companies such as Ultimate Software work closely with local universities to recruit interns and young, up-and-coming tech talent. Another renowned headquarters, JM Family Enterprises Inc. consistently recruits several interns each year.

Miami Herald: What do you see as the biggest challenges to economic development facing South Florida in recent years?

Bob Swindell: Arguably our biggest successes are also what form our biggest challenges, as the more our region continues to grow, the more we need to address the growing pains that come with it. This means improving our public transit infrastructure so that people can get around without relying on their cars. People in South Florida love their cars, but building more highways and roadways is simply not a sustainable solution. The introduction of Brightline this year is a major step forward, but we need to do more to improve accessibility and mobility throughout the tri-county area.

Affordability is also a major concern, since as our region becomes more popular, cost of living will naturally continue to rise. We need to attract and retain more high-paying jobs to keep pace with this inflation. Additionally, we are constrained by the realities of our geography. Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades, undeveloped land is scarce. Through infill development and redevelopment, we are overcoming this challenge, but we have to continue to be creative in how — and where — we build.



Source: Miami Herald

New construction is fueling Broward County’s growing property values, which reached an all-time high this year, according to new preliminary 2017 values released Friday by the Property Appraiser’s Office.

The new figures will be used by local governments to set their tax rates and budgets for the coming year. (Click here to see the latest property value figures for the county and local cities.)

Leading Broward cities in new construction this year were Hollywood and Dania Beach, reaping the windfall of FPL’s new $1.2 billion “clean energy” plant in their portion of Port Everglades that was added to the tax rolls this year.

But right behind those cities were two that have been consistently near the top of the county’s new construction list in recent years: Fort Lauderdale and Parkland. They’re the only two Broward cities to be in the top five when it comes to new construction in each of the past six years. And they couldn’t be more different.

Fort Lauderdale is the county seat with a booming downtown and an upscale beach that are attracting substantial high-rise and redevelopment projects. Parkland, with its 30,000 population that’s a sixth of the size of Fort Lauderdale on the county’s northwestern fringe, doesn’t have a beach or a downtown.

What Parkland does have is vacant land to build on, something that’s a rarity in the rest of the county. In recent years, the suburban community has been annexing for development portions of the Wedge, a nearly 2,000-acre triangle of vacant land that was transferred from Palm Beach County to Broward in 2009.

“Developers are purchasing large agricultural parcels in Parkland and developing them into single-family home communities,” Property Appraiser Marty Kiar said.

Major builders there include Lennar, Toll Brothers and CalAtlantic Homes. The projects include the Parkland Golf and Country Club, Watercress, Mira Lago, Heron Bay and Parkland Bay. Construction in the city was largely responsible for a 52 percent increase in the number of Broward homes started during the first three months of this year.

“That land that came in is highly desirable as so many people want to be in Northwest Broward and Parkland,” said Broward Commissioner Michael Udine, a former mayor of the city. “They love our open space, great schools and family-friendly environment. People are moving from within Broward and many from out of state.”

The new figures released Friday put Broward’s new construction this year at $2.4 billion, which was $111 million more than the amount listed in the initial report that came out in May. The county’s overall taxable value came in at $177.3 billion, up $17 million from the May report.

Existing property values in the county are up 7.8 percent from a year ago, while the increase is 9.3 percent when new construction is included. For property owners, higher values signal a growing return on the investment they made, but they can also mean higher taxes to be paid.

Miami-Dade County is reporting an overall taxable value of $272.4 billion, an increase of 8.4 percent, with $8.2 billion in new construction. In Palm Beach County, property values reached $176.8 billion, a 7.3 percent increase, with new construction totaling 2.7 billion.

Among Broward cities, overall totals show Dania Beach leading the county with a 20.7 percent increase in property values and Hollywood second with a 15.6 percent increase. Fort Lauderdale values are up 9.3 percent, Pompano Beach 9.2 percent, Pembroke Pines 8.6 percent, Miramar 7.7 percent and Coral Springs 7.4 percent.


Source: SunSentinel

In disruption there is opportunity as well, and the Counselors of Real Estate’s annual list of the Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate certainly goes heavy on disruption.

It’s also not a list of items that can be ticked off and dealt with one by one: in announcing the 2017-2018 CRE Top Ten list earlier this month, Scott Muldavin, chair of the invitation-only Counselors, noted that many of the issues are interconnected and reflect both global uncertainty and seemingly relentless disruption in the economy and multiple real estate sectors.

Heading the list is a hydra-headed issue that has an impact on all of the others because, as FTI Consulting’s Michael Hedden points out, it makes reaching decisions on anything more difficult. The issue is global uncertainty and political polarization, as exemplified by recent elections in the US, the UK, France, Austria and other countries.

The Counselors see “resurging nationalism, testing existing diplomatic and trade relationships around the globe as exemplified by Brexit and NATO.  Potentially devastating military conflicts seem more likely in Asia and existing conflicts in the Middle East are more volatile.” Within the US, its scope isn’t limited to Washington, DC by any means, but carries through to the local level as well.

For real estate, the negative implications are immediate, according to the Counselors: “Uncertainty about changes to trade, travel and immigration policy threaten cross-border investing, hospitality properties, retail, and manufacturing supply chains, among other effects. Rising interest rates and retail inflation will make middle-class homeownership that much more difficult.”

Longer-term implications, the Counselors warn, “could be much more severe, as polarization prevents long-term fixes to issues such as infrastructure, affordable housing, local and state pension liabilities, and education. And so, one or both of these trends affects virtually every issue on this year’s list and a host of others that didn’t make the cut.”

On a brighter although no less disruptive note is the second item in CRE’s list, the technology boom. This boom encompasses everything from the tech start-ups that are revolutionizing commercial real estate operations to ecommerce and the trend toward autonomous cars that may eventually render parking garages obsolete.

In retail, according to the Counselors, “the question has shifted from ‘Do you shop online?’ to ‘How many deliveries did you have today?’ Online retail continues to drive warehouse demand—but each foot of new warehouse space leased by online retailers translates into eight feet of vacant retail. Smart lenders and investors are already insisting that new construction reflect future demand patterns, not those with which we are currently familiar.”

Third on the list is generational disruption. A few years ago, Baby Boomers (formerly the largest generation by population) and Millennials (who now outnumber them) were perceived as by and large going their own ways.

 “The generations are crossing paths everywhere: in the workplace, in housing and at the local bar and grill, intersecting and sharing spaces, despite their often disparate priorities when it comes to the built environment.” the Counselors say. “Studies project that Millennials will ultimately behave in a fashion similar to Boomers—but do so 10 years later.”

Other issues on the latest CRE Top Ten list include retail disruptions, infrastructure investment, housing: the big mismatch, lost decades of the middle class, real estate’s emerging role in health care, immigration and climate change. Issues to watch include tax reform and monetary policy, various other policy matters and cannabis.

Under the direction of research executive and author Peter C. Burley and Victor Calanog, chief economist and SVP with Reis, the Counselors’ 1,100 members globally undertook an extensive collaborative dialogue on current issues and trends to compile the final list.


Source: GlobeSt.

Michael Rauch and Tom Robertson, Senior Managing Partners with CRE Florida Partners, represented the seller in the sale of an office/medical building located at 8333 W. McNab Road in Tamarac, Florida.

The property sold on May 23 for $3,800,000, equating to $89 per square foot on a 6.9% capitalization rate.

The ±42,481-square-foot asset has been owned and operated by the current owner since about 2005. This multi-tenant building offers tenants a variety of office solutions for both Medical and Professional uses.

Tom Robertson

“This medical/office building is well located for tenants, given its immediate access the Sawgrass Expressway, I-95, and Florida’s Turnpike, as well as the asset’s close proximity to University Hospital,” commented Robertson.

According to Robertson, quality assets like this are in demand. CRE Florida Partners is currently working with several buyers looking for similar assets in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Michael Rauch

“Well-located medical office properties with strong occupancy rates continue to perform above market expectations,” added Rauch.

The brokerage company is also seeking leasing and investment sales professionals for its growing commercial real estate expansion in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Multiple positions are available within these and other Florida markets, which offer a unique ground floor career opportunity to work closely with the firms Founder’s Tom Robertson and Michael Rauch to move their vision for the CRE Florida Partners brand forward. Commission and benefits are commensurate with experience. A Florida Real Estate License and Commercial Real Estate experience are required. Only qualified candidates should apply by forwarding resumes to

When Florida lawmakers vote Friday on sweeping legislation expanding access to medical marijuana, they’ll also be approving a sweetener for the state’s citrus industry.

Tucked into the legislation, which establishes a system for patients to buy cannabis, is language that requires the state’s Department of Health to give preferential treatment to companies that promise to convert orange juice factories and other citrus processing facilities into marijuana grow sites.

The reason, lawmakers say, is to replenish Florida’s signature citrus industry. It has struggled to combat the greening that has devastated its crops and shaken the rural communities that depend on groves and the factories that process oranges and grapefruits.

“Why don’t we just take a close look at turning some of those factories into something new where jobs can be created and it can be a Florida business?” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

But just who is that going to benefit? And who demanded it be in the bill? Lawmakers haven’t been clear.

The language appears to favor some major agricultural interests. As they evaluate who to award two of five new competitive licenses to grow and sell pot, health officials would give preference to companies that plan to use facilities “used for the canning, concentrating or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses,” according to a key clause.

That could apply to some of the nation’s largest brands, like Tropicana and Coca-Cola; less recognizable ones such as Louis Dreyfus Citrus and Tampa Juice Service; and sugar companies that grow citrus or produce molasses, such as U.S. Sugar. They would have to apply for a medical marijuana grower’s license and convert their facilities, and it’s not yet clear which companies have interest in doing so. The Florida Citrus Processors Association did not respond to a phone call Thursday.

If passed and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, the legislation would give them a major advantage in what will be a hotly contested bid to enter the Florida medical marijuana market, which could generate $1 billion a year in sales by 2019, according to industry analysts.

While the intent with voters that approved legalization of pot was on patient access — 71 percent supported it in November — the citrus carve-out was the latest example of how legislative deals are driven by money and potential profits.

Democrats expressed outrage Thursday, accusing Republicans of cutting a deal to help select special interests.

“It’s clear the language is written to benefit specific groups and specific companies,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “They know who is going to benefit. We don’t. And they are writing a bill that benefits these groups.”

Senators pushed for the language during closed-door negotiations in recent weeks with the House. Asked which member of the Senate wanted it put in the bill, Bradley said the idea came about “organically.” And, he said, it wasn’t done on behalf of any specific companies. “I’m not aware of any specific companies,” Clemens said.

In a statement Friday, U.S. Sugar spokeswoman Judy Sanchez said the company has nothing to do with the language.

“Our company has NOT been engaged in any way with any member of the Florida Legislature regarding medical marijuana,” Sanchez said.

He also said that because it is a preference, not a guaranteed license, the department could give zero licenses to a citrus company.

House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who was also involved in the negotiations, said he had “no knowledge” of whether any citrus processing companies wanted to enter the medical marijuana industry.

Lawmakers see overlap between citrus and marijuana because both are plants and require agricultural experience to grow them well. That misses the point, though, said Amy Margolis, a lawyer with Florida-based law firm Greenspoon Marder who also founded the Oregon Cannabis Association.

“Language giving preferential treatment refers to the people who turn oranges into juices and jams, not those who grow them,”  Margolis said. “What’s more, cannabis is unique among plants. They’re growing citrus and making it into juice. That has no relation to cannabis cultivation or cannabis processing.”

Some citrus processors make essential oils, she acknowledged, but even those processes are different from creating many cannabis products. Orange juice companies aren’t the only groups that could benefit from lawmakers’ bill. A third license has been reserved for members of the Florida Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association.

The bill also grants a license automatically to five growers who applied under a more limited medical marijuana program established by lawmakers in 2014. They are: Loop’s Nursery and Greenhouses in Northeast Florida; Treadwell Nursery in Central Florida; and 3 Boys Farm, Plants of Ruskin and Sun Bulb Company in Southwest Florida.


Source: Miami Herald

Sugar is Palm Beach County’s biggest agricultural product, and exports from the Port of Palm Beach  have been one of the port’s top exports over the years.

Sugar exports increased 43 percent for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2016, port officials said  this week. The raw sugar is transported to refineries by barge. Sugar cargo rose to 783,690 tons from  544,780  in one year. The average sugar barge’s load equates to 735 20-ton truckloads.

Transporting the sugar by barge from the Riviera Beach-based port to New York, as opposed to sending it by  truck,  eliminates approximately 93 million miles of truck traffic annually off of Interstate 95. Unlike most ports, the 162-acre port is an export port, with approximately 80 percent of its cargo consisting of exports.

The information was included in the port’s audited comprehensive financial report for fiscal year 2016, approved by the port commission in May. The commission authorized the port’s executive director, Manuel Almira, to submit the report to the Auditor General of the State of Florida. (To view the complete FY 2016 financial report, click here.)

“The Port’s continuing growth and increased financial strength over the past decade can be attributed to our Board of Commissioners’ unwavering commitment to securing new business for the Port, partnering with our existing tenants by supporting their operational needs at the Port, and maintaining a focused effort on controlling the Port’s costs,” said commission chairman Blair  Ciklin.

Overall cargo at the port was up 16 percent to 2.519 million  tons. The Port received 24 percent  more vessel calls in 2016 versus 2015.

With Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s 1,800-passenger Grand Celebration calling at the Port every other day, passenger counts rose 43 percent to 502,876.

While container tonnage in 2016 remained consistent with tonnage in 2015, break-bulk cargo saw the highest year-over-year increases within the general cargo category of 84 percent, to 98,801 tons from 53,546  tons in 2015. Fuel oil was up 85 percent, to 98,354 tons from  53,045 tons. The port processed 37,122 tons of recycled steel, a 39 percent increase from 2015.

Net operating revenues of $16.6 million are at a 10-year high, up $5.5 million from their lowest point in 2009 during the recession and up 10 percent or $1.6 million from FY 2015. This was primarily due to increases in wharfage and dockage revenues.

As one of the largest employers in Palm Beach County, the Port of Palm Beach and its more than 30 tenants employ more than 2,850 people. Through the contribution of more than $185 million in business revenue and $17.5 million in tenant-contributed state and local annual tax revenue, the Port of Palm Beach is one of the largest economic engines in South Florida.


Source: Palm Beach Post

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