Excerpt from the Daily Business Review article by Lidia Dinkova; published 2/25/19.
Trophy office towers have been trading across South Florida in spite of the regional market slowing down after five years of robust growth.
“In South Florida in general, (we are) attracted to the job growth and the population growth,” said Kevin Chin,
The real estate finance and investment management firm with offices in California and New York bought downtown Miami’s SunTrust International Center for $127 million and as part of a joint venture bought downtown Fort Lauderdale’s 1 E Broward for $108.5 million.
1 E Broward “is a well-leased building. It’s the closest office building to Brightline, so we thought that was attractive as well,” Chin, who is based in New York, said using Virgin Trains’ previous name.
PCCP bought the 19-story Fort Lauderdale building in a joint venture with West Palm Beach-based NAI/Merin Hunter Codman from Ivy Realty.
For NAI/Merin, a commercial real estate services firm that has started buying as well, the purchase was motivated in part by Fort Lauderdale’s growth.
“I can tell you a lot of the young people in my office who formerly would have gravitated to Miami or Delray Beach are now choosing instead to move to Fort Lauderdale,” said Neil Merin, NAI/Merin chairman, and founder.
The purchase also made sense for PCCP because the $127 million price tag is much less than new construction, Chin noted. Both SunTrust and 1 E Broward offer an upside in rental revenue, too.
Ivy Realty, which sold 1 E Broward, invested $5 million in renovations in the 1984 tower and raised the occupancy to 91 percent. Since the sale, the rate is up to 93.5 percent.
At the same time, rents have remained below market, according to Merin.
The average now is $18 per square foot, triple net, compared with the average market rate of $30 to $35 per square foot, he said. Rents won’t be increased to the market rate but may hit $28 a square foot.
Aside from the Fort Lauderdale train station, the tower is just south of FATVillage, a once dilapidated warehouse district that’s experienced a rebirth.
“It looks very much like Wynwood five or maybe six years ago,” Merin said, referring to FATVillage. “Instead of being adjacent to the worst neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, it (1 E Broward) is adjacent to the most attractive neighborhood in the city.”