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Hines Taps Into Tampa Bay Market with 308-Unit Apt. Complex

17 Jan 2013, 4:09 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

International real estate firm Hines recently started construction on its first St. Petersburg project, the 308-unit Azure Residences multifamily complex. 

Located within the Carillon Park master-planned community, Azure will include 308 luxury garden-style residences in seven three-story buildings and one four-story building with direct entry and detached parking garages. Consisting of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with sizes ranging from 655 to 1,376 square feet, the complex will feature an amenity package including a clubhouse, a resort-style swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, an Internet café and a sports lounge.

Designed by The Preston Partnership of Atlanta, Azure’s architecture is meant to evoke a coastal style with buildings clad in clapboard siding and incorporating shake accents, wide eaves, metal roof accents and stucco at the buildings’ bases. Upper-level apartments will also benefit from water views of Tampa Bay.

Located in proximity to Roosevelt Boulevard, Ulmerton Road and I-275, Azure Residences will be a drive away from some of the region’s best beaches in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Furthermore, as part of the Carillon Park community—comprised of more than two million square feet of Class A office space, a Publix grocery-anchored retail center, a four-star hotel and a 60,000-square-foot outpatient clinic—the multifamily community will benefit from the neighboring employers in the area that include Raymond James, Franklin Templeton, Aegon, Fidelity National, General Dynamics, Jabil Circuit and PCSU Financial.

According to an official Hines announcement, the general contractor Urban Oaks Builders expects occupancy of the first units in October 2013, with final completion set for October 2014.

Hines Managing Director and leader of the firm’s Southeast Region multifamily platform Jon Wood said, “Azure is a significant project for us as it will occur on one of the few remaining apartment sites in St. Petersburg and within one of the best locations in the area, Carillon Park. We look forward to growing our multifamily presence in Central Florida.”

Hines is the developer of the 276-unit Ponce & Bird multifamily project currently underway in Miami, and is highly familiar with the Florida market; the company’s experience in Florida includes the development of 3,000 acres of master-planned communities including Palencia, Glen St. John and Woodlawn in Jacksonville; the 16-story, 101-unit luxury condominium tower, Madeira on Marco Island; the 55-story Wachovia Financial Center in Miami; and the 12-story 2525 Ponce de Leon building in Coral Gables. Hines recently acted as the development manager for the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center performing arts center in Miami Beach, as well as the new Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center currently under construction in the City of Orlando.

Image courtesy of Hines


Driftwood Hospitality Buys Hyatt Regency Tampa, Plans Hilton Rebranding

28 Dec 2012, 10:51 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

After being on the market for nearly six months, the 521-room Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa is now under new ownership. Driftwood Hospitality Management LLC purchased the property for an undisclosed amount.

The acquisition marks Driftwood’s re-entry to the Tampa market; “We are excited to return to the Tampa market and believe this property is poised for success with terrific core offerings and a central location that appeals to business and leisure travelers alike,” said Mike Diaz, CEO of Driftwood Hospitality Management.

The Hyatt Regency is located at 211 North Tampa Street in downtown Tampa. The hotel features a full-service Avanzare restaurant and lounge, a heated outdoor pool, rooftop whirlpool, gift shop and fitness center. The 521-room hotel boasts 30,000 square feet of flexible function space and access to nearby beaches, golf courses, tourist attractions and local corporations.

The new owner plans on investing $13 million into property renovations, which are expected to commence within the coming weeks. As part of Driftwood’s planned renovation program, the company will reconfigure the hotel’s first floor, updating the lobby and restaurant. When complete, the location will be home to Tampa’s newest Starbucks and will feature a variety of other new amenities. Guestrooms and meeting spaces will also be refreshed in late 2013.

Effective immediately under Driftwood’s management, the Hyatt Regency Tampa will operate as Hotel Tampa – A Hilton Affiliated Property. Upon completion of the first phase of the renovation, which is slated for Q2 2013, the property will be reflagged as the Hilton Hotel Downtown Tampa.

Seller AREA Property Partners was represented in the transaction by Holliday Fenoglio Fowler’s Senior Managing Director Daniel Peek, Associate Directors Paul Hsu and Max Comess and Senior Real Estate Analyst Cyrus Vazifdar.

Parkway Closes on $22.5M Tampa-Westshore Office Building Purchase

18 Dec 2012, 3:34 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Parkway Properties Inc.has closed on the acquisition of the Westshore Corporate Center in Tampa for a net purchase price of $22.5 million. Parkway Properties has recently been on a shopping spree.

The company has first shown interest in the 170,000-square-foot building in early October; “Westshore Corporate Center is well located within the Westshore submarket and is one of our third-party managed assets in the former Eola Capital portfolio, allowing Parkway to achieve attractive pricing given the $850,000 credit we will receive at closing,” said Parkway’s President and CEO, James R. Heistand, at the time.

Located at 600 N. Westshore Blvd., Westshore Corporate Center was built in 1988 and is currently 77.7 percent leased. Parkway expects the property to generate a 2013 estimated cash net operating income yield of approximately 8.5 percent based on the net purchase price. The company will own 100 percent of the asset and plans to assume the in-place first mortgage secured by the property, which has a current outstanding balance of approximately $14.5 million with a fixed interest rate of 5.8 percent and a maturity date of June 1, 2015.

Westshore Corporate Center is currently managed by Parkway Realty Services and was formerly part of the Eola Capital LLC portfolio before Eola merged with Parkway in May 2011. Given the agreement formed between Parkway and the former Eola principals in December 2011, 100 percent of any proceeds received by the former principals were granted to Parkway. Therefore, Parkway will only be required to pay a purchase price of $22.5 million, which is net of an $850,000 credit that would have otherwise been paid to the former Eola principals.

In its effort to pursue high-quality assets, Parkway Properties has also announced entering into a purchase and sale agreement to acquire Phoenix Tower, a 626,000 square foot office tower located in the Greenway Plaza submarket of Houston for $124.5 million; Tower Place 200, a 260,000 square foot office tower located in the Buckhead submarket of Atlanta for $56 million; and 525 North Tryon, a 406,000 square foot office tower located in the central business district (CBD) of Charlotte, N.C. for $47.4 million.

Image: Westshore Corporate Center via tampachamber.com


Parmenter Realty Buys Two Tampa Office Buildings from Prudential for $85M

30 Nov 2012, 8:32 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Miami-based Parmenter Realty Partners added 494,813 square-feet of office space to its portfolio when it purchased two Class A office buildings on Rocky Point Island in Tampa, Fla. for $85 million.

Seller Prudential Real Estate Investors first started looking for a buyer for the Island Center and Waterford Plaza buildings in mid-2009, but withdrew the properties from the market only to restart marketing efforts approximately four months ago.

Mike Davis, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield’s Southeast Capital Markets Group—the firm that negotiated the transaction on behalf of the seller—said that “The capital markets again view Tampa positively from a long-term investment perspective.  Accordingly, well-positioned core assets are in high demand.”

The Cushman & Wakefield’s Southeast Capital Markets Group sales team was formed by Mike Davis, executive director, Rick Brugge, CCIM, associate director and Michael Lerner, senior director. Cushman & Wakefield was assisted by CLW Real Estate Services.  The sale price of $85 million equates to approximately $169 per square foot.

Totaling 494,813 square feet, Island Center and Waterford Plaza are both Class A, 12-story office buildings and have been built in 1985 and 1986 respectively. The 249,797-square-foot Island Center is located at 2701 Rocky Point Drive and spans over 2.9 acres, while the Waterford Plaza, located at 7650 Courtney Campbell Causeway, encompasses 245,016 square feet.

The two buildings were 85 percent leased at the time of the sale, with a tenant roster that includes URS Corp., Cigna Healthcare, GXS Inc. and TCM Bank.

Image: Island Center via LoopNet

Richman Group Plans $45M Apt. Community on Industrial Park Site

15 Nov 2012, 10:05 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The Richman Group of Florida unveiled plans for a $45 million luxury apartment community named Gateway Centre. To be located on the 40-acre site of a former industrial park, the four-story complex will rise on Gandy Boulevard. The site was purchased by The Richman Group last month from flea-market magnate Hardy Huntley.

According to Tampa Bay Times, Winter Park-based Douglas Partners had similar plans for the property, but as the deal failed to materialize, the owner started seeking new investors for the Pinellas County property.

Gateway Centre will consist of 432 units sized between 870 and 1,500 square feet, featuring nine-foot ceilings and granite countertops, with rents ranging from $1,000 to $1,800 per month. Amenities will include a clubhouse, an outdoor kitchen, tennis courts and a nature trail.

Developer The Richman Group will break ground on the project next year. Plans call for a 2014 opening date, when the first phase of the Gateway Centre—consisting of 320 units—is scheduled for completion.

No multifamily projects were delivered in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area in 2011. By contrast, Marcus & Millichap predicts that market-rate rental inventory will expand by 1 percent during 2012 with the completion of 1,500 units. Also this year, permitting remains on track to increase by more than 50 percent to 3,600 units of multifamily housing. According to the same report, approximately 2,000 units were under construction at the end of the second quarter, representing a potential 1.3 percent increase in market-rate stock. The total includes 344-unit second phase of the Circle at Crosstown in the Brandon/Plant City submarket, which broke ground in the second quarter. Projects containing 1,500 rentals will come online in the metro during 2012, including more than 1,000 units in Hillsborough County.

Chart courtesy of Marcus & Millichap

Construction Starts on $225M St. Joseph’s Hospital-South in Riverview

31 Oct 2012, 9:06 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

A groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction for the first not-for-profit hospital to serve southern Hillsborough County—the $225 million St. Joseph’s Hospital South.

St. Joseph’s Hospital-South, part of BayCare Health System— a leading community-based health system in the Tampa Bay area—will be a full-service hospital offering a wide range of services from emergency care and women’s services to surgery and intensive care. The property will be located at 6901 Simmons Loop Road in Riverview, Fla., easily accessible via I-75 and Highway 301.

The 72-acre campus will include a medical office building that connects to the four-story, 352,000-square-foot hospital for convenient access to pre-procedure testing and physician offices.  The site also will be home to a 40,000 square-foot, free-standing physician office building, which is expected to open in 2013 with imaging and laboratory services as well as primary care and specialty physician offices.

Hospital president and CEO, Isaac Mallah, said his staff has worked for more than seven years to get the necessary approvals to build the hospital.  But the idea to build in this location was conceived in the mid 1980s, when the land was acquired.

In addition to providing health care to area residents, the project is expected to be a welcome addition to the business community. “Think about it: $225 million invested here and the ripple effect that will have,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor during the groundbreaking ceremony.  “First: construction jobs, boosting small business throughout the community. Then, the medical professionals that will move here and their families that will grow up here. This hospital is going to be an anchor for economic development for the SouthShore community and all of southern Hillsborough County.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital-South will join the other 10 not-for-profit hospitals in the BayCare Health System network in 2015.

Taubman, Benderson Break Ground on $315M Shopping Center in Sarasota

18 Oct 2012, 6:52 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The Mall at University Town Center is one step closer to fruition as developers Taubman Centers Inc. and Benderson Development Company LLC broke ground on the $315 million shopping center during a ceremony held on Monday.

The ceremony was attended by community officials including Sharon Hillstrom, Manatee Economic Development Corp.; Mark Huey, Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County; Christine Robinson, Chair of Sarasota County Commission; and Congressman Vern Buchanan. It culminated with a $10,000 donation on behalf of the mall to the Education Foundation of Sarasota County—a non-profit organization dedicated to quality public education for all children.

The Mall at University Town Center will be a state-of-the-art, two-level, enclosed mall featuring an 80,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue, a 180,000-square-foot Dillard’s and a 160,000-square-foot Macy’s. The $315 million shopping center will include more than 100 specialty stores and restaurants, approximately half of which are anticipated to be new to the market.

Located at I-75 and University Parkway, the area’s most heavily traveled interchange, The Mall at University Town Center aims at becoming the dominant fashion shopping destination in the growing Sarasota region. Analysts predict the project could even become the busiest retail hub from Tampa to Fort Myers.

“The Mall at University Town Center will be a legacy project for Sarasota County,” said Christine Robinson, Sarasota County Commission Chair. “It’s an economically diverse development offering new jobs and new job opportunities. The mall was created by a visionary public-private partnership and based on a sustainable concept that will become a national benchmark for combining a world-class rowing and recreational facility with a world-class commercial and residential center.”

Slated for completion in October 2014, the retail center is expected to pump more than $400 million a year into the regional economy, contributing significantly to the growth of nearby commercial centers, creating thousands of new jobs and boosting property values.

Images via Taubman Centers

JLL Signs Law Firm for 14K SF in SunTrust Financial Centre

4 Oct 2012, 10:55 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Florida law firm Gunster signed a long-term lease for 14,298 square feet at the SunTrust Financial Centre. The firm had recently entered the Tampa Bay market.

The transaction was mediated by Sharon Bragg, vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle on behalf of the landlord, and by Greg Katz of Studley, Inc. on behalf of Gunster.  The space represents the firm’s first permanent office in the area. No financial details of the deal have been disclosed.

“Gunster is excited about expanding to the Tampa Bay area,” said H. William Perry, Gunster’s managing shareholder. “The addition of local high-quality attorneys is Gunster’s first step in developing a full-service presence in Tampa Bay and marks the beginning of a larger growth plan for the West Coast.”

Acquired in December 2011 by an affiliate of the commercial real estate firm The Brookdale Group, the 36-story, 527,000-square-foot, Class A office building is 86 percent leased.  Designed by U.S.-based firm Cooper Carry, the building is leased exclusively by Jones Lang LaSalle and managed by Means Knaus Partners.  In 2010 and 2011, the building was designated the “Outstanding Building of the Year” by the Building Owners and Managers Association’s Tampa Bay chapter. It is located at 401 East Jackson Street in Tampa’s Central Business District.

According to a recent Marcus & Millichap office market overview, demand for Class A office space in the Tampa area has wavered following a reasonably strong second half of last year, when many tenants upgraded to higher-quality space. For the following months, a minor improvement in space demand is projected, which will generate a slight decline in vacancy.

Image Courtesy of Schwartz Media Strategies

Crescent Resources to Develop $68M Tampa Apartment Community

19 Sep 2012, 10:49 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Crescent Resources LLC has recently disclosed plans for a new $68 million Tampa apartment community called Circle Bayshore.

Designed by MSA Architects of Miami, the Spanish eclectic-style eight-story structure will be located at 319 Bayshore Blvd., providing views of the bay.  Circle Bayshore will feature studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans. Amenities will include a two-story health club and fitness center, resort-style swimming pool, an outdoor living area with grilling stations and a fire pit, a business center and clubroom. The building will encompass a parking garage serving residents and guests.

Typical of Crescent’s other Circle communities, the 367-unit Circle Bayshore will incorporate many sustainable features and materials. The community has been designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements from the U.S. Green Building Council. The first apartments are expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2014.

The apartments will feature gourmet kitchens with granite countertops, undermount sinks, a prep island and stainless steel appliances. The bathrooms will be finished with granite countertops, custom wood cabinetry, ceramic tile floors, and tub and shower surrounds. High ceilings, spacious walk-in-closets and separate linen closets are also included. Each apartment will have a private balcony and full-size washer and dryer.

Circle Bayshore is being financed by equity investment from Crescent Resources. Construction financing is supplied by Capital One and mezzanine financing by Nationwide Real Estate Investments. Moss & Associates of Fort Lauderdale will serve as general contractor. The civil engineer is King Engineering of Tampa, and the landscape architect is Land Resource Design Group Inc., of Orlando, Fla.

Image via Circle Bayshore official website

$25M Tampa Bay-Area Self-Storage Portfolio Up for Sale

6 Sep 2012, 6:34 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

A three-property, 2,250-unit portfolio owned by Safeguard Self Storage is now on the market, with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services in charge of finding a buyer.

Located in Palm Harbor, Tampa and St. Petersburg, the storage assets are listed at $25 million, or $111 per square foot, but the properties can also be acquired individually. The Palm Harbor facility is approximately 20 miles northwest of Tampa. Constructed in 2001, the property includes 83,350 square feet of space and 670 units, 551 of which are climate-controlled. In addition, the facility includes 79 boat/RV spaces. The facility is approximately 85 percent occupied. Benefiting from street presence on U.S. Highway 19, this asset is only three miles from the Gulf of Mexico and local beaches.

The Tampa facility is located in the Carrollwood area, three miles west of Interstate 275. Developed in 1999, the 705-unit facility includes 75,525 square feet of climate-controlled space. Currently 86 percent occupied, amenities include a facility wide intercom system, individual door alarms, video surveillance and a management office. The property is situated near a highly trafficked intersection, Dale Mabry Highway and West Bears Avenue, where more than 50,000 cars pass by daily.

The St. Petersburg property was built in 1987 and renovated in 2006; this 875-unit facility includes 66,694 square feet of storage space, including 593 climate-controlled units and 10 RV/boat storage units. Currently, the property is 78 percent occupied.

According to data provided by Marcus & Millichap Self Storage Group, while on a national scale self-storage supply is estimated at 7.4 square feet per capita, Florida averages below the country at 9.5 square feet per person. The Tampa metro area’s supply, however, came in at 8.3 square feet per capita.

Cassidy Turley Helps Two Clients Obtain Energy Star Designation

23 Aug 2012, 10:49 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The Northdale Executive Center I and the Tampa Electric Company building have recently received the Energy Star designation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both buildings are managed by Cassidy Turley, a company known for helping clients to ensure their properties incorporate sustainable practices that are both cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. The two buildings join a growing number of properties managed by Cassidy Turley that have earned Snergy Star designation.

“Energy efficiency is and always has been an important part of Cassidy Turley’s strategy as we achieve results for our clients across the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit,” said Holly Hughes, senior managing director of property management with Cassidy Turley. “We are proud to have achieved the Energy Star designation of Northdale Executive Center I and of the TECO building as it represents one of the most widely recognized standards out there to evaluate a building.”

Both properties are located in Tampa. Northdale Executive Center I is an 88,745-square-foot Class-A office building set at 3820 Northdale Blvd., and the Tampa Electric Company’s headquarters is a 324,390-square-foot building at 702 N. Franklin Street.

In other local news, Institutional Property Advisors has announced closing on the sale of Runaway Bay, a 192-unit multifamily property located in Pinellas Park, a central Pinellas County city within the Tampa Bay Area. Jamie B. May, an executive director of IPA, represented the seller, AIMCO. The buyer is J.I. Kislak Inc.

Constructed in 1985 on 14.5 acres, Runaway Bay is composed of 12 two-story residential buildings with an average unit size of 862 square feet located at 4701 88th Ave. North in Pinellas Park. There are 80 one-bedroom units, 24 two-bedroom/one-bath apartments, 24 two-bedroom/one-and-a-half-bath units and 64 two-bedroom/two-bath apartments. Approximately 35 percent of the unit interiors have been renovated.

Sheraton Tampa East Replaces Crowne Plaza After $9M Renovation

8 Aug 2012, 7:07 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Following a $9 million comprehensive renovation, the former Crowne Plaza hotel is now ready to welcome its guests as the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel.

The hotel—purchased last fall by a joint venture between Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Waramaug Hospitality LLC, and a private investment group— is the Sheraton brand’s fourth hotel in greater Tampa. The renovation included upgrades to all 265 guestrooms, the property’s 30,000 square feet of meeting space, and all public areas. The hotel’s reception area was also adapted to Sheraton’s signature lobby, the Link@Sheraton® experience.

Additional amenities include the fully renovated, full-service restaurant, Panfilio’s Bar and Grille, Sheraton Club Lounge, an outdoor heated pool, tennis courts and upgraded fitness facility featuring the brand’s Sheraton Fitness programmed by Core Performance. Sheraton Tampa East Hotel provides more than 30,000 square feet of fully renovated meeting and event space, including a 5,000 square foot ballroom and a poolside pavilion for cocktail receptions.

All 265 renovated guestrooms feature oversized work desks, custom-designed ergonomic chairs, high-speed Internet, LCD flat panel televisions, MP3 docking stations and the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed. Sheraton Tampa East Hotel’s 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space includes a 5,000-square-foot ballroom, 24 meeting rooms and a poolside pavilion for receptions.

“We have a great team that was able to renovate all areas of the hotel in a very short period of time,” said Jay Litt, asset manager for Waramaug Hospitality Asset Management LLC. “We wanted the conversion to be completed in time for the Republican National Convention this summer, and our team was able to finish the work with time to spare.”

Conveniently located off I-75, Sheraton Tampa East Hotel boasts a prime location close to major corporations, within five miles from the Tampa Convention Center and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 10 miles from downtown Tampa, and 16 miles from Tampa International Airport (TPA). The hotel is easily accessible to leading attractions including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Brandon Town Center and Ford Amphitheater.

Interstate operates the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel under a long-term management agreement. Waramaug Hospitality Asset Management LLC provided project and asset management for the renovation and conversion to the Sheraton brand.

Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

Two Urban Centre Leases Full Floor to Mortgage Contracting Services

26 Jul 2012, 9:56 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

In a move to consolidate its two Tampa locations into a single space, Mortgage Contracting Services has signed a long-term lease for 33,000 square feet of Two Urban Centre.

The national property preservation and inspection company will move from its current locations in One Urban Centre and Bank of America Tower to occupy the entire fifth floor at 4890 West Kennedy Boulevard this fall.

Two Urban Centre is one of the two twin nine-story buildings located at the southwest corner of Westshore and Kennedy Blvd.; the two buildings are connected by the Intercontinental Hotel and make up for nearly 550,000 square feet of office space. Both One Urban Centre and Two Urban Centre are managed and leased exclusively by Jones Lang LaSalle.

Urban Centre is Westhsore’ s premier Class A office and hotel complex; each office building features a nine-story glass atrium with multi-tiered granite fountains, mature landscaping and many on-site amenities including 24-hour security, four restaurants, full-service hair salon, full-service fitness center, lobby with wi-fi, sundry shop, auto detailing and conference center.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s Deana Beer represented the landlord in lease negotiations, while John Heald of Jones Lang LaSalle represented the tenant.  “With the consolidation to Urban Centre, Mortgage Contracting Services is allowing for a more efficient operation without drastically changing their square-footage needs,” stated Heald. “This move allows for growth as they continue to strengthen their Tampa presence.” The financial terms of the lease were not disclosed.

Image Courtesy of Schwartz Media Strategies

Container Store to Enter Florida Markets

19 Jul 2012, 3:58 am

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The Container Store has announced plans to enter the Tampa market in 2013. The retailer currently has two Florida stores, in Hallandale Beach and Miami, and plans on opening three more: in Tampa, Orlando and Boca Raton.

“The Container Store is extremely deliberate in selecting A-plus real estate sites across the country surrounded by a dense population of our time- and space-starved customers,” said Kip Tindell, chairman & CEO of The Container Store. “We’re thrilled to bring our unique concept to these three markets and are confident they will perform as top-level stores from the first day the doors open.”

The new stores, expected to create more than 180 jobs, will be consistent with The Container Store’s goal of offering a solutions-based approach to retail, with each full-time salesperson receiving more than 263 hours of training in their first year, compared to the retail industry average of seven to 10 hours. In addition, the retailer pays its employees 50 to 100 percent higher than the retail industry average. It’s this commitment to an employee-first culture that has landed The Container Store on FORTUNE Magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the past 13 years, with the most recent ranking being announced in January.

For each new location, The Container Store will partner with a local nonprofit that will receive 10 percent of its grand opening weekend sales as part of the retailer’s commitment to give back to its local communities.

The Tampa store will occupy 25,000 square feet on the southwest corner of West Shore Boulevard and Spruce Street, one block south of International Plaza Mall. An opening date is still to be determined.

“We look forward to astonishing new and existing Florida customers alike with The Container Store’s unique shopping experience, product collection and renowned customer service delivered by our great employees,” continued Tindell. “Our goal is to have each customer do a little dance every time they open the doors of their organized closet, pantry or home office.”

Hard Rock Casino Expands in Tampa to Become Fourth-Largest Casino in Nation

6 Jul 2012, 4:59 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Following its recently completed $75 million expansion, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa is now the fourth-largest casino in the nation, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

With a casino floor the size of five football fields, more than 5,000 slot machines, 110 table games and 50 poker tables, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino now places Tampa on the world map of gambling cities; based on the number of seats where people can play slots, poker and other games, the casino now ranks sixth worldwide.

The expansion added 32,000 square feet, bringing the total gaming space to 190,000 square feet, with 800 new slot machines; 1,300 new parking spaces brought the total to 5,000. Improvements also included a new room with 71 slots reserved for non-smokers and carpeting replaced on most of the gaming floor.

The expansion created 400 new jobs in gaming, restaurants, hotel operations, maintenance and security, resulting in a massive job fair. According to The Tampa Tribune, the expanded casino could employ more than 3,500 people.

Casino operations remain limited due to the lack of sufficient hotel rooms—currently only 250—as the 22-story hotel planned a few years back for a nearby location was put on hold. But it has increased the number of visitors to approximately 20,000 per day, and even 30,000 on crowded weekends or special days.

Grocery-Anchored Shopping Centers Attract Interest in Tampa Bay Area

30 Jun 2012, 5:41 am

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

TNP Strategic Retail Trust—a public non-traded REIT that invests in grocery- and drug store-anchored retail properties—purchased the Bloomingdale Hills retail center in the Tampa suburb of Riverview for an undisclosed amount.

Anchored by Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, the 78,686-square-foot Bloomingdale Hills is set at the intersection of West Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road in Riverview. The property comprises approximately 78,500 square feet of rentable space, as well as a fully improved, undeveloped land parcel.

Built in 2002, the center is 100 percent leased to multiple tenants, including St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Tampa. Moreover, anchor tenant Wal-Mart is signed to a 15-year lease and holds a Standard & Poor’s ‘AA’ credit rating as one of the world’s largest retailers.

This is not the sole Tampa Bay-area shopping center to change hands in the past weeks. J.S. Karlton Co. recently acquired the Venice Pines Shopping Center in Venice, Fla., for the reported amount of $10.4 million, free and clear of debt. The 97,000-square-foot Venice Pines Shopping Center is located at 1254 Jacaranda Blvd., at the intersection of Center Road in Venice; the retail center features a Sweetbay Supermarket and serves a residential population of approximately 43,000 within a three-mile radius, with a median household income of $68,700.

Seller Weingarten Realty Investors—a commercial real estate owner, manager and developer—was represented in the transaction by Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P.’s senior managing directors Brad Peterson and Doug Hazelbaker.

According to Peterson, “This sale is another example of how the investment market has gotten red-hot for high-quality grocery-anchored centers like Venice Pines Shopping Center. HFF has recently marketed several grocery-anchored centers in Florida, including those anchored by Publix, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Winn-Dixie and Sweetbay, and the interest level from investors has been exceptionally strong across the board.”

Image via Weingarten Realty Investors official website

Lighting Owner Relocates Vinik Asset Management’s HQ to SunTrust Tower

21 Jun 2012, 5:13 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Vinik Asset Management—the Boston-based hedge fund and investment firm founded and controlled by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik—will soon relocate to Tampa’s SunTrust Financial Centre.

The firm recently signed a long-term lease for more than 20,000 square feet at Tampa’s iconic tower and will occupy the entire 31st floor of the building. While it will retain a presence in Boston, Vinik Asset Management will begin operating out of the new space this summer.

Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s Sharon Bragg represented the landlord—an affiliate of The Brookdale Group—during lease negotiations, while Andy May of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. represented the tenant. “The relocation of Vinik Asset Management’s headquarters is not only a great win for SunTrust Financial Centre but it will have a significant impact on the city of Tampa and overall absorption for the CBD,” said Bragg.

Tampa’s iconic SunTrust Financial Centre building is located at 401 E. Jackson St. in downtown Tampa, at the southeast corner of Jackson Street and Florida Avenue. The 36-story, 527,000-square-foot, Class A trophy office building, designed by U.S.-based Cooper Carry, features an all-white stair-stepped ziggurat roof that is illuminated at night, creating a “downtown beacon” that is visible for miles.

Designated the “Outstanding Building of the Year” by the Building Owners and Managers Association’s (BOMA) Tampa Bay chapter in both 2010 and 2011, the building traded in December for $82 million. Owner The Brookdale Group has granted Jones Lang LaSalle exclusive leasing assignments.

Vinik Asset Management’s relocation to Tampa follows the Vinik family’s purchase of two Palma Ceia properties, consisting of a $6 million, 8,300-square-foot home and a $3.2 million adjacent property. Vinik is also in the bid for acquiring the Channelside Bay Plaza shopping complex.

Image Courtesy of The Brookdale Group Official Website

Sarasota Multifamily Property Trades for $13.5M

31 May 2012, 8:24 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

Tradition at Palm Aire—a 178-unit multifamily property located in the northern Sarasota community of Palm Aire—has been acquired by Preston Giuliano Capital Partners for $13.5 million, or $75,843 per unit.

The property, built in 1991, stands on 28.3 acres at 8445 Gardens Way, in the midst of the vibrant University Parkway area; encompassing 175,684 square feet, Tradition at Palm Aire consists of 45 one-bedroom, 105 two-bedroom and 28 three-bedroom apartments, with an average of 987 square feet per unit.

Each unit is appointed with laminate countertops, flat-panel thermofoil cabinetry with decorative hardware and GE appliances. All apartments also have full-size washers and dryers, kitchen pantries, large walk-in closets and screened patios. Second-floor units have vaulted ceilings and bonus rooms. Site amenities include a spacious two-story clubhouse with a large clubroom, a Wi-Fi business center, a fully appointed fitness center, three swimming pools, a spa, lighted tennis courts, two lakes with walking paths, numerous dog walking areas and a car-care center.

Seller Beachwold Residential was represented by Jamie May, a senior Florida director for Institutional Property Advisors, a recently formed multifamily brokerage division of Marcus & Millichap that serves the needs of institutional and major private investors.

“Originally a 248-unit condo conversion, Tradition at Palm Aire provides the new owner with 178 units at a significant discount to historical retail sales prices and well below replacement cost,” said May. “The units are presently 95 percent leased and generate strong cash flow, providing new ownership with the flexibility of holding units as rentals until the retail sales market for condominiums recovers.” May also referenced Florida’s recently extended Distressed Condominium Relief Act as contributing to the increasing attractiveness of purchasing and owning fractured condominiums.

Altman Eyeing Tampa for 2013 Development Pipeline

24 May 2012, 8:22 pm

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

While this year The Altman Cos. is bidding on the South Florida multifamily rental market, the company has announced that it might be targeting the Tampa Bay area for its next development line-up.

With four communities planned for the South Florida area in 2012—a potential addition of 1,110 units to the local inventory of rental apartments—Altman has also identified Tampa and Austin as great potential markets for new development starts.

“Our strategy is to have three to four new multifamily communities lined up per year, with a focus entirely on rentals,” said Altman chairman Joel Altman. He stated that rents are recovering and occupancies are high on his company’s existing inventory of rental properties, and said the current national shift from traditional home ownership to rentals is “being seen in all markets we’re in.”

Altman is already familiar with the Tampa Bay market; last year, the company acquired construction financing for Altis at Grand Cypress, a 258-unit development project planned for New Tampa in Pasco County; construction is currently underway and leasing is planned to start in June. The Altman Cos. is also the owner of the 70-unit Peninsula luxury residential community in Bolton Beach, a property acquired from PNC prior to being completed.

Altman has developed, constructed and managed more than 22,000 multifamily units in Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. Its new Altis-branded communities are three-story walk-ups with no breezeways and private entries, plus expansive clubhouses and resort-style amenities.

Image: Tampa Skyline, Courtesy of Sonny SideUp via Wikimedia Commons

Rousse Properties Partners with Cinemark for New 12-Screen Lakeland Theater

19 May 2012, 5:55 am

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

The Lakeland Square Mall will soon be welcoming its own 12-screen, all-digital movie theater, according to an announcement by Cinemark Holdings Inc., one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors.

Cinemark has reached an agreement with Rouse Properties to become part of the Lakeland Square Mall in Lakeland, Fla. The Lakeland Square Mall, located on Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 98, is launching a massive remodeling initiative for the development.

The new Cinemark NextGen theater will offer the latest technology, cutting-edge amenities and customer-preferred options, all under one roof. All of the stadium-seated auditoriums will offer a state-of-the-art viewing environment with wall-to-wall screens, 100 percent digital projection and enhanced sound systems equipped with higher-quality speakers and 7.1-capable Digital Surround Sound. Additionally, this theater complex will contain an extremely popular Cinemark XD Extreme Digital Cinema auditorium. Finally, the lobby will be designed around one of Cinemark’s innovative self-serve concession stands offering freshly popped popcorn, Coca-Cola fountain beverages and favorite candy brands.

The new Cinemark XD Extreme Digital Cinema auditorium will be the first in the Florida area. The XD auditorium is the largest in the theater complex and offers a complete entertainment environment, featuring a wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screen, plush seating and a custom JBL sound system with higher-end components and 7.1-capable Digital Surround Sound. The XD auditorium will exhibit the newest movies every week, including 2D and Real D-3D pictures.

“We are looking forward to introducing our new Cinemark NextGen movie theater concept to guests in Lakeland, and this new complex will be a great addition to the Lakeland Square Mall development,” commented Tim Warner, Cinemark’s CEO. “We plan to move very quickly to open the theater in 2013.”

Photo Credits: YLakeland

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