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The Hidden Dangers In Medical Lease Concessions

As medical offices struggle to keep their doors open during COVID-19, they’re often going to their landlords to request relief.

While medical office landlords might be inclined to provide this relief rather than seeing their tenants go out of business, Allison Nelson, co-deputy chair of Akerman’s real estate group, says laws specific to the healthcare sector could open landlords up to compliance issues. The main threat is violating The Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute, which is a set of federal laws that prohibit physician self-referral.

These laws may be applicable when a physician or healthcare practitioner or an immediate family member of a physician is leasing or subleasing from another healthcare provider or hospital. Making things even thornier is that there could also be state corollaries to these laws.

“The [medical office] lease has to be at fair market value, and the parties can’t give concessions to each other or remuneration outside the contract,” Nelson says. “So that’s where you could get into issues with giving rent relief, which could inadvertently be considered a kickback in exchange for referrals of patients between the parties.”

In these situations, Nelson advises landlords to get their attorney involved to determine if Sark law or the Anti-Kickback Statute governs a leasing arrangement. They should also determine if the lease or sublease provides a provision that allows for a concession.

But there are situations where Nelson thinks rent relief may be acceptable. “If the healthcare system just closes down its entire medical office building and bars a tenant from use of the space, that’s probably a pretty easy example of an instance in which a rent concession is allowed,” Nelson says. “The tenant was denied access, and the whole building was shut down.”

The Anti-Kickback Statute is generally an intent-based law, according to Nelson. So if the landlord creates a policy for all tenants, that could help establish that there was no intent.

“Under The Anti-Kickback Statute, there has to be an intent to induce referrals,” Nelson says. “So if they are creating consistent policy across the board, it’s going to help mitigate that intent to induce referrals.”

Government agencies have moved to provide relief. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offered blank waivers for arrangements governed by the Stark law if related to a COVID-19 purpose. The Office of Inspector General also issued guidance that it wouldn’t prosecute or enforce agreements subject The Anti-Kickback Statute. “Hospitals and healthcare systems are looking to those blanket waivers now to give them some means for providing written concessions or other types of relief to their tenants,” Nelson says.

Nelson advises her medical office clients to create a protocol for dealing with rent relief requests.

“Maybe the tenant has to prove that they sought loans under the Paycheck Protection Program or that not getting this relief will cause an economic hardship for them that could put them out of business,” Nelson says. “That’s important with these blanket waivers. They have to be related to a COVID-19 purpose.”

Nelson says that purpose could include a lease at a below fair market value rate so a physician could treat COVID-19 patients at a hospital. “Some argue it could include rent relief to ensure medical practices stay open to serve the community,” she says.

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

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Webinar: South Florida Retail Outlook: What is the Impact of COVID-19 on South Florida’s Retail Sector?

Last week, Shopping Center Business and Southeast Real Estate Business hosted “South Florida Retail Outlook: What is the Impact of COVID-19 on South Florida’s Retail Sector?

Listen as a panel of retail experts discusses their gameplans: how they are working with tenants and their employees as the industry seeks to adapt. Hear about attitudes towards loans, rent reductions, property value, next steps and more.

See a list of some topics covered and their timestamps below:

(07:00): How are restaurants and experiential tenants faring?

(09:29) Adapting for the challenges of COVID-19

(17:28) Retail rent trends over the next 180 days?

(24:32) What can owners do today to position themselves to succeed?

(36:00) When might we start to see real loan defaults and real distressed assets?

(42:55) Lessons learned from 2007-2008 financial crisis

(53:56) Decisions made in the pre-COVID-19 world that have carried over well into our current environment

Click here to access the complimentary webinar recording. Hear how South Florida retail professionals are approaching industry challenges and evolving to meet the needs of retailers.

 

Source:  Shopping Center Business

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Swire Sells Brickell City Centre Office Buildings

Swire Properties sold two office buildings at Brickell City Centre for $163 million, marking the largest sale to close in South Florida during the pandemic.

Two Brickell City Centre and Three Brickell City Centre LLC, led by Swire Properties President Kieran Bowers sold the office portion of 78 Southwest Seventh Street and 98 Southeast Seventh Street in Miami to US VI 2 Brickell LLC and US VI 3 Brickell LLC, affiliates of Northwood Investors. Tenants include Akerman LLP and WeWork.

The combined $163 million purchase breaks down to $80.3 million for Two Brickell City Centre and $82.7 million for Three Brickell City Centre. Each building has about 130,000 square feet, which means they sold for roughly $630 per square foot.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Brickell City Centre said the buildings are nearly 100 percent occupied and that Swire plans to use the cash for future developments.

Northwood, a Denver, Colorado-based investment adviser, had about $8 billion of assets under management as of December. That includes Cheeca Lodge & Spa in the Florida Keys and the mixed-use project under construction at 1177 Kane Concourse in Bay Harbor Islands.

Swire’s more than $1 billion Brickell City Centre development also includes the East Miami hotel, condo towers Reach and Rise, and the open-air shopping center anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and the luxury movie theater CMX. Two and Three Brickell City Centre were completed in 2016. Arquitectonica was the lead architect.

Swire Properties is headquartered at Brickell City Centre, but the company is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Swire Properties Limited.

The developer has plans for a second phase of Brickell City Centre. In early 2019, Swire and businessman Carlos Mattos scored final approval for a 100,000-square-foot-plus expansion that would have a 54-story, 588-unit residential tower, another 62-story, 384-unit residential tower, commercial space and parking.

 

Source:  The Real Deal

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The CARES Act Is Positioning Healthcare Real Estate For A Bright Future

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as The CARES Act, was passed with great fanfare and a lot of promise.

In a lot of ways, it hasn’t lived up to that hype as small businesses struggled to get the help that they needed. But Kyle O’Connor, President and Founder of MLL Capital, which owns medical and life sciences facilities, thinks one sector was well-positioned to benefit from The CARES Act.

“One of the things that has been a big help for the medical industry has been The CARES Act, whether it be the payroll protection program [PPP] or the other funding that went to the health systems,” O’Connor says. “That has, I believe, helped quite a bit.”

O’Connor thinks the medical sector has received many benefits from the act that haven’t been there for other sectors.

“If you look throughout the economy, not every type of business was as well suited as the health care industry was to take advantage of the payroll protection program,” O’Connor says.

The employee size limitation for PPP grants is 500 employees. Since most medical offices won’t clear that threshold, they are great candidates for that funding.

“Most medical practices plan to rehire all of their laid off or furloughed employees given they expect demand to resume,” O’Connor says. “It’s also important to note that the health systems received/will receive funding from other elements of The CARES Act. In the medical field, The CARES Act has allowed doctor’s offices to keep critical medical workers employed. The doctors can only see so many people. So the nurse practitioners, the administrative staff, all the nurses that support each individual practice are a pretty important part of the system.”

Doctors are also adopting things like telehealth to offset a decline in office visits.

“The occupiers in our buildings were organizing themselves for dealing with the issues that have been caused by the stay-at-home orders,” O’Connor says.

Once the COVID crisis eases up or clears, O’Connor does not doubt that patients will return to medical offices. And demand could be even more significant as there is pent-up demand for medical services.

“They’re going to be much more comfortable going back to the doctor, and there will be a flood of requests for appointments,” O’Connor says. “There will likely be greater levels of health care that is being provided as the impact of the stay-at-home orders dissipates.”

The support from The CARES Act, in addition to the resilience of the sector, has made O’Connor optimistic about its future.

“Medical offices and life science property types have a defensive element to them,” O’Connor says. “We are going to hold their value better than some of the other property types.”

 

Source: GlobeSt.

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Pair Of Mixed-Use Towers Planned For Wynwood

On the eastern side of growing Wynwood a developer plans a large mixed-use residential project that will also bring in new commercial tenants.

PRH CHO Dragon Wynwood LLC plans to build the pair of neighboring buildings at 2804, 2810, 2819, 2828, 2838 and 2804 NW First Ave.

The city’s Urban Development Review Board considered the project at a virtual meeting and recommended it for approval with a couple of thoughts.

With a current working title of Wynwood 29, the vast development tops out at 375,383 square feet.

The project includes a 12-story building that connects to an 8-story portion, and a separate 8-story building across the street, with 248 multifamily residential units, 28,071 square feet of ground floor commercial uses, a garage for 372 vehicles and room to park 22 bicycles.

Wynwood 29 will include a pool and amenity deck. The garage is intended for both residential and commercial tenants, as well as patrons.

The project is to have 6,360 square feet of open space.

The collection of parcels is between Northwest 28th and 29th streets, split by Northwest First Avenue.

The 12-story portion is planned for the southwest corner of Northwest 29th Street and First Avenue. The southern end of that block has the connected 8 stories. The ground floor is set for retail uses.

What’s referred to in the plans as Parcel 2 is on the northeast corner of Northwest 28th Street and First Avenue. Planned there is the 8-story building, which has eight levels of parking, seven levels of residential and ground floor retail.

The property is currently vacant and is within both the T5-O and T6-8-O Zoning Transects and the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District (NRD-1) Overlay.

Multifamily structures sit to the east and west of the property.

Attorney Brian Dombrowski, representing the developer, told the review board the project was previously approved in September 2016 and this is a slightly modified design, updated after the company gained an additional parcel.

In a letter to the city, Mr. Dombrowski detailed requests for one warrant and several waivers in order to construct Wynwood 29.

The developer is requesting a warrant to allow on-street maneuverability to access two loading berths. Turning movements associated with more than one loading berth per development may be permitted on-street by warrant, except along Wynwood Corridors, under Miami 21 zoning.

The project proposes on-street maneuverability to access two loading berths from Northwest 28th Street, on the western portion of the project, according to the letter.

The waivers being sought include:

  • Up to a 30% reduction in required parking within the quarter-mile radius of a Transit Corridor. The property is within a quarter mile of multiple bus and trolley stops.
  • Up to a 10% increase in lot size from 40,000 square feet to 44,000.
  • Up to 90% lot coverage through the Flexible Lot Coverage Program, of the NRD-1 Regulations. This additional lot coverage allows both the activation of the roof terrace as well enhancing the pedestrian realm.
  • Up to a 10% increase in lot coverage for the T6-8-O portion of the property, allowing 84.3% of coverage when 80% is allowed.
  • To allow vehicular entry, loading docks, and service entries from the primary frontage, Northwest 28th Street.
  • Up to a 10% reduction in the minimum square footage for a one-bedroom residential unit. Miami 21 typically requires a minimum square footage for a one-bedroom residential unit of 550 square feet. The project proposes one-bedroom units at 531 square feet, 3.5% below the minimum.

“By reducing the minimum one-bedroom unit size, the Project can provide more affordable units. The Project’s proximity to mass transit makes it a great candidate for smaller, more affordable units,” wrote Mr. Dombrowski.

 

“Urban Land Institute studies indicate that smaller units have stronger occupancy rates than typical apartments and individuals choosing to live in smaller units are attracted to them because of a desire to sacrifice space for lower per unit cost and proximity to transit, employment, and vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods,” he said.

The project is designed by the architectural firm of Arquitectonica. Ray Fort, of the firm, described details of the Wynwood 29 project during the virtual meeting.

Mr. Fort told the board: “This quadrant of Wynwood is becoming the residential sector of Wynwood … it is a little bit quieter – there aren’t as many bars – and surrounding projects are planned to be residential,”

Board Chair Willy Bermello said, “I think the project is beautifully designed.”

And while he complimented the bright colors proposed for the project, Mr. Bermello mentioned a concern with the longevity of painted stucco.

“The issue of our Florida sun is that it’s not forgiving when it comes to bright colored paints. [How do you] maintain the crispness of those colors over time?” he asked.

Mr. Bermello asked if they had considered brick for the project.

Mr. Fort said they did not and referred to the size of the development.

Board member Anthony Tzamtzis also voiced concern about the painted surfaces.

“Did you consider glazed tiles? I think the painted stucco is degrading the concept you are trying to promote, which is the industrial [look],” said Mr. Tzamtzis. But he went on to congratulate Mr. Fort for “an extremely elegant presentation and thoughtful design.”

 

Board member Dean Lewis said the project is “well thought out, well detailed.”

He suggested a pedestrian bridge over Northwest First Avenue to connect the buildings.

Attorney Iris Escarra, also representing the developer, said they have discussed a pedestrian bridge but said it would require a separate approval from the city commission. She said such a bridge may be an option.

Board member Ignacio Permuy said: “I commend you on an exceptional job, starting from the massing to the architecture of the buildings … I truly appreciate the screening on the parking garage.”

Mr. Permuy said he understood the others’ comments about the bright painted stucco but added, “I don’t mind the color scheme that much. I understand comments … but this shows levels of playfulness, it shows you enjoyed designing this project.”

 

Board member Robert Behar said: “I like the whole project. You’ve done a great job.”

A motion to recommend approval of the project passed unanimously, with recommendations including the developer considering connecting the buildings, perhaps with a bridge, and to consider materials other than stucco.

 

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How Retail Leases Will Change In A Post-COVID World

In the post-COVID world, retail leases will need to change and adapt. Several provisions will need to be changed and added to account for the possibility of a pandemic and the mandated shuttering of businesses. This includes adjustments to force majeure and insurance provisions as well as use of common areas, common area caps, alterations, and rules and regulations, all of which should be adjusted to reflect the new market.

“These modifications will likely put landlords in a better position to respond and react to the new normal that will exist until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed,” Dan Villalpando, a partner at Cox, Castle & Nicholson, tells GlobeSt.com.

In regards to the common areas, most leases are currently too broad to account for usage and social distancing. This is one of the first areas that will need to be addressed in leases.

“Landlords should make sure that the language in the Control of Common Area provision found in most leases is broad enough for landlords to respond and adapt to pandemics and similar emergencies, such as by installing items to improve health and safety conditions and making other, perhaps currently unforeseeable, changes to the common area to comply with recommendations or requirements of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, or state or local authorities,” says Villalpando.

In some instances, common areas may need to be converted into dining and retail spaces to accommodate social distancing guidelines, and landlords will need to comply.

“As a result of physical distancing and store-capacity requirements, tenants may need the right to use portions of the common area (like sidewalks) for customers to form lines outside the stores,” says Villalpando. “A landlord should not decline a request by a tenant to use the common area for queuing. Nevertheless, a landlord can condition such use upon tenant fulfilling certain prerequisites, such as giving the landlord prior written notice of such intent and the expected duration, peak times, and specific area the tenant wants to use. Additionally, landlords may want to specifically require that the tenant cleans up the area used for queuing on a daily basis.”

In addition, these changes to common areas do not apply to increase caps, according to Villalpando.

“In leases where a landlord provides a tenant with a cap on increases in common area costs, such cap does not typically apply to uncontrollable costs,” he says. “Following COVID-19, landlords should consider expanding the list of “uncontrollable” costs. For example, costs associated with a pandemic and the related health or safety measures the landlord takes, for example the installation of hand sanitizing stations, upgrades to automatic doors, use of more personnel to administer cleaning and to make sure guests comply with social distancing requirements, should be deemed uncontrollable and not be subject to any cap.”

In addition, landlords should also take the into account the cost structure, particularly during a pandemic.

“If it turns out that the “base year” for setting the “floor” for common area costs occurs during a year when the common areas are used less because of a pandemic or related outbreak, the landlord should consider including a “gross up” concept to bring the “floor” up to a number that is more reflective of what common area costs would have been but for the pandemic,” says Villalpando.

Villalpando also suggests that landlords can modify the cap during the lowest period.

“Another alternative would be to modify the cumulative versus non-cumulative nature of the cap for any period during which common area costs are artificially low,” he says. “Basically, with a cumulative cap, when the common area costs for a particular year exceed the cap, the landlord can apply any unused portions of the cap from previous years to make up the difference.”

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

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Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Getting Sued Over Tax Bills

Affiliates of megamall developer Triple Five, along with Terra and Starwood Capital Group are crying foul over property tax bills from Miami-Dade County.

A number of developers and investment groups have recently filed lawsuits against Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Pedro J. Garcia for their tax appraisals for the 2019 tax year. Others include the owners of Aventura ParkSquare, the SunTrust office building on Brickell and the Delano South Beach.

The latest suits come as Miami-Dade issued preliminary taxable values for 2020 earlier this month, based on assessments and market conditions on Jan. 1. More such suits could arise, as businesses continue to lose money and commercial real estate values fall due to impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“A litigation showdown is looming between property owners and the government over property taxes,” said attorney Josh Migdal, a partner at the Miami law firm Mark Migdal & Hayden, who handles real estate cases.

“Property owners are faced with budget shortfalls due to decreased revenue,” Migdal added. “However, a decrease in tax revenue collection due to the virus will require the government to maximize its property tax collection to prevent its own budget shortfall.”

Florida is heavily reliant on property taxes since the state does not have a state income tax.

Overall, preliminary property tax values across Miami-Dade County rose in 2020 compared to the previous year. The estimated taxable value for Miami-Dade County properties totaled $324.36 million, up 5.1 percent from 2019, according to the property appraiser’s office.

The biggest increases were in West Miami (14.6 percent); Florida City (13.8 percent); Homestead (10.8 percent); Hialeah and North Miami (each up 10.4 percent). Much of the boost in appraised value is due to new construction, the property appraiser’s report shows.

Yet, the property appraiser’s office said falling prices for condos properties in Bal Harbour, North Bay Village, Key Biscayne and Aventura will have a negative impact on property taxes in 2020. It also says that coronavirus is starting to impact commercial real estate values.

“I will do everything within my authority to assist property owners who are struggling during these unprecedented times,” Garcia said in a statement. “As the real estate market changes during 2020, my office will consider these factors and make the necessary corrections permitted by law.”

The property appraiser’s office declined to comment on the recently filed suits. Among them, Triple Five, the Canadian developer, sued over the assessed value of its property in west Miami-Dade, where the group plans to build American Dream Miami mall.

The developer alleges the property appraiser gave an agricultural designation for 46.5 acres of its property, but denied the agriculture designation for two parcels totaling 38.32 acres. The properties were valued at $5.13 million and at $1.5 million, respectively, which the Triple Five alleges are “amounts in excess of their agricultural values.” The developer alleges the entire property should be classified as agricultural for the 2019 tax year, according to the complaint.

Developer Terra is also suing over a 11,865-square-foot parcel it owns at 2765 South Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove. The company alleges the property is based on appraisal practices that are not “professionally accepted appraisal practices nor acceptable mass appraisal standards” in Miami-Dade County.

A company tied to Starwood Capital Group sued the property appraiser over a hotel it owns at 6700 Northwest 7th Street near Miami International Airport. The complaint alleges the $20 million assessment does not represent the value of Springhill Suites Miami Downtown/Medical Center because it exceeds the market value.

An affiliate of Integra Investments is suing the appraiser over Aventura ParkSquare, its mixed-use project in Aventura. The development group claims the property appraiser misappraised its property and it should not owe $106,629 in property taxes. The 1.2-million-square-foot project, at 2920 Northeast 207th Street, was completed in 2018. It includes a 131-unit luxury condo building, a 100,000-square-foot Class A office component, 55,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space, and a hotel.

Alliance Re Holdings, the investment group that owns the SunTrust building at 777 Brickell Avenue is suing the property appraiser over its appraised value at the office tower. The group, led by Adolfo Geo Filho, who is tied to Brazilian construction company Construtora ARG, alleges it should not owe $2.2 million in property taxes. Alliance Re Holdings alleges the “Property Appraiser’s assessment of the property is arbitrarily based on appraisal practices.” The Filho-led group purchased the SunTrust building for $140 million in February 2015. Tenants include SunTrust, Truluck’s and Quest Workspaces.

The owner of the Delano South Beach is suing the property appraiser’s office over the hotel’s $172,905 tax bill. A company tied to SBE Entertainment Group, led by Sam Nazarian, also alleges the property assessment is arbitrarily based on appraisal practices that are not professionally accepted nor acceptable in Miami-Dade County.

 

Source:  The Real Deal

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Will The Pandemic Kill Demand For Micro Units?

For the past five-plus years, micro-units have been an intriguing subplot in the grand saga of commercial real estate. As demand for housing has boomed, especially in rent-burdened cities like New York and San Francisco, developers gambled that tenants would tolerate tiny units — some as small as 220 SF — for the chance to access cool neighborhoods at affordable rents. Now, though, some real estate experts wonder whether the coronavirus will kill, or at least cripple, the concept.

“Prior to COVID, there was a big surge in the urban areas, urban core, everyone wanting to live in micro-units, and now it looks like everyone wants to move to the suburbs, buy homes, get out of apartments,” FM Capital Principal Aaron Kurlansky said during a Bisnow South Florida webinar last month.

Social distancing is the antithesis of the tight-knit living style that micro-units and their cousin, co-living, promote. With bars and restaurants shuttered and remote work gaining more acceptance, renters may see fewer reasons to remain in city centers, where most micro-unit properties are.

Integra Investments principal Victor Ballestas said his company was considering developing micro-unit projects in the Wynwood and North Beach areas of Miami.

“You sort of have to go towards the micro-market in order to make the numbers work, because the overall rent was pretty high,” he said. But in the wake of the coronavirus, “those are the ones that we’ve probably pulled back the quickest.”

“We always had a little heartburn over the micro-unit model,” he continued. “And then [we] started hearing through the grapevine also that people that are moving into micro-units are, you know, moving out after the year. It’s pretty much like 100% turnover rate, which obviously impacts performance significantly.”

That prompted him to focus on multifamily deals on larger parcels instead, he said. Allen Morris Co. CEO Allen Morris, who also spoke on the webinar, said he shared Ballestas’ concerns.

“People do sometimes tend to move out after a year. They say, ‘Great, look how much money I’m saving!’ and then they say, ‘I can’t stand it! Get me out!’ So, it becomes like student housing — they all move out at the end of the year.”

Kurlansky said the small apartment complexes his company owns in South Beach and Miami Beach have underperformed compared to the larger units farther from downtown in his portfolio, which he attributed to unit size.

“People are in, then they’re out,” he said. “As we’ve played in the student housing space, as someone from my office told me, it’s like convincing your wife every year that she loves you. You go from 100 to zero to back to 100, so it’s an exhaustive process, and, you know, micro-units, it seems to me, are going to follow that kind of trend where you’re just kind of [going to] be in constant lease-up.”

 

Source:  Bisnow

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These Miami Neighborhoods Saw More Retailers Open Than Leave Amid Pandemic

While many retail shops in Miami-Dade and Broward sat empty during the first months of the pandemic, a few neighborhoods actually experienced a bump in leasing.

Downtown Miami, Coral Gables and Medley/Hialeah defied the nationwide retail spiral, increasing total retail inventory by more than 10,000 square feet each, according to Colliers International’s second-quarter retail report.

“The positive net absorption in these neighborhoods were hangover deals done during the fourth and first quarters,” said industry watcher Beth Azor, investor and broker at the Weston-based Azor Advisory Services.

Dave Preston, executive managing director for retail services for Colliers International, agreed, noting that retail transactions take six to eight months to process.

Another factor, said Azor: Paycheck Protection Program funds, which allowed many tenants to hold on during the second quarter.

But those positives will likely be offset in the third and fourth quarters. Azor said she expects those market reports will show double-digit vacancy rates, at least of 10%, and a minimum of 10% drop in asking rents. Average asking rates have already inched downward, according to the Colliers report.

South Florida also will feel the impact of the national bankruptcies and store closings announced in the second quarters — J. Crew, CMX Cinemas and Neiman Marcus, just to name a few. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s order on Monday to end dine-in services and close some other businesses in the county “will be the nail in the coffin for many businesses; this will increase the vacancy numbers,” Azor said.

MIAMI-DADE

Total second-quarter vacancy grew from 4.3% to 4.5%. The completion of new construction injected 10,195 square feet into the market, bringing the total to 101.3 million square feet — 230,698 square feet more than the market absorbed.

But some neighborhoods were spared. Downtown Miami increased leased space by 28,651 square feet; Coral Gables grew by 17,428 square feet, and Medley/Hialeah grew by 24,397 square feet.

“The positive absorption in Downtown Miami stands out. The new development, including Miami Worldcenter and Moishe Mana’s Flagler Village, shows growth in the market,” Preston said.

Newcomers to Downtown Miami leased 2,000 square feet, including ArTi Entertainment, which took 2,200 square feet. “That shows entrepreneurship is alive during the pandemic,” Azor said.

The average direct asking rate decreased from $37.95 to $35.98 per square foot.

 

Source:  Miami Herald

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Vulture Investors Circling In Search Of Dying Businesses And Available Space

Faced with heightened restrictions due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, coupled with a desire to keep employees safe, some Miami restaurants are calling it quits.

Other eateries are mulling closing their dining rooms, temporarily shutting down, or changing their business models entirely. If the state or local governments order another shutdown, it could mark the “nail in the coffin” for as many as half the restaurants, said Felix Bendersky, restaurant broker and owner of F+B Hospitality.

Yet, some restaurants are still signing new deals or reopening during the pandemic, taking advantage of spaces that are back on the market.

New Restrictions

After several days of record Covid-19 cases statewide, stricter rules are putting renewed pressure on struggling businesses. On Wednesday, Florida’s total reached nearly 159,000 cases and 3,550 deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the closure of bars on Friday. On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered restaurants (and bars that have been able to continue operating) to stop selling alcohol between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. This past weekend, pool access and alcohol sales were restricted at hotels in Miami-Dade.

On Wednesday, Miami Beach established a curfew from 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. (food delivery is among the exceptions). The city is banning alcohol sales at all retail stores, including liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores, after 8 p.m. Restaurants can’t operate for dine-in or takeout between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m.

The new orders come as restaurants are still restricted to 50 percent occupancy.

Vultures Circle Amid Struggles

All the while, vulture investors are circling in search of dying businesses and available space, sources say.

In May, OpenTable CEO Steve Hafner predicted a quarter of U.S. restaurants that were closed or that were only offering takeout would not survive.

Bendersky said he’s receiving 20 to 30 calls a day from restaurateurs and brokers looking for second generation spaces ranging from 1,000 square feet to 1,500 square feet in neighborhoods such as Edgewater, MiMo, Brickell, Downtown, Coral Gables and South-of-Fifth.

Second generation spaces include built-out kitchens with a DERM-approved grease trap, which makes the space more valuable, especially now. It can save new operators between $300,000 and $750,000 in buildout costs, Bendersky said.

Meanwhile, many existing restaurants are on pause, trying to figure out when and if to reopen, whether to close their dining rooms, or sell.

“There’s a lot of different groups right now that are just evaluating whether or not it’s worth it right now to open back up,” said Aaron Butler, CEO of Avenue Real Estate Partners.

Mila, a rooftop restaurant on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, is among those waiting to reopen, Butler said.

Chica in the MiMo District and Spring Chicken in Coral Gables are also waiting to reopen, according to a spokesperson for 50 Eggs Hospitality Group.

Michelle Bernstein, a prominent Miami restaurateur, posted on her Instagram account that she was closing Cafe La Trova’s dining room as of Monday.

Bernstein, whose restaurant is in Little Havana, said that despite following social distancing and CDC guidelines, “the health and safety of our employees and patrons has become too great of a concern to continue offering dine-in service under the circumstances.”

Laid Fresh, a cafe in Wynwood, also announced on Instagram that it was closing the location permanently.

Kush by Spillover, a Coconut Grove restaurant that Kush Hospitality recently rebranded and reopened, closed temporarily. Caja Caliente, a restaurant in Coral Gables, posted on social media that it was closing its indoor dining room, and would only have outdoor seating available. Politan Row, a food hall in the Miami Design District previously called St. Roch Market, has not yet reopened.

“The arbitrary changes and regulations have been pretty impactful because we find out hours before the changes are made,” said Ben Potts, co-owner of Beaker & Gray in Wynwood.

He said the county and city-mandated curfews put in place due to protests also had an effect.

Yet, his and other restaurants still remain open. Potts said Beaker & Gray has been open since May 27. “At the moment we’re planning on staying open,” he said.

And some new eateries are in the pipeline. In the Miami Design District, Itamae, Ovation and Cote are all expected to open later this year.

And Old Greg’s Pizza will operate a pop-up out of chef Brad Kilgore’s Kaido space in the Design District beginning on Friday, the pizza concept posted on Instagram Wednesday.

Test Is Coming

The real stress test could come in the next three to six month months, after money from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loan program runs out, brokers say. Vulture investors of both kinds – hunting for real estate deals and for the restaurant and bar businesses themselves – are in the market.

“Larger, high-priced restaurants are more of a challenge because their overhead and carrying costs are so much higher,” said Butler of Avenue Real Estate Partners.

Many tenants had the wherewithal to survive in April, May and June, or had worked out deals with their landlords, and/or had received PPP money, experts say.

Moving forward, the types of tenants that will survive have been adapting successfully to the changes brought on by the pandemic.

Pizzerias and national chains are flourishing, because they lend themselves to takeout, said Scott Sandelin, a broker with Marcus & Millichap.

“This [pandemic] will accelerate that change in the food business,” Sandelin said. Yet, many restaurants and bars, he added, are in a “scary situation.”

 

Source:  The Real Deal

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