Federal Realty Investment Trust made headlines in May when it acquired an 80% stake in CocoWalk with joint venture partners Grass River Property and Comras Company. The companies paid $87.5 million for their stake in the 198,000-square-foot lifestyle center in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood.
Coconut Grove is attractive to many retail developers, investors and tenants. The city posts some of the strongest year-round income demographics in South Florida, a fast-growing daytime population with over 1 million square feet of office space within walking distance, five existing and three planned hotels, and one of Miami’s best-performing residential markets.
We caught up with Chris Weilminster, executive vice president of Real Estate Leasing for Federal, to dive deeper on what attracted his firm to Coconut Grove and why his company partnered with two other firms on the deal in part one of this exclusive interview. Be sure to check out part two, in which he will discuss how the JV partners plan to change CocoWalk.
GlobeSt.com: What drew Federal Realty to Miami, and specifically to Coconut Grove?
Weilminster: Miami is becoming a more urban city but there are very few authentic and walkable districts within the market, making Coconut Grove unique. The Grove has strong demographics in-place, a strengthening residential market, and numerous schools nearby, including University of Miami.
Federal has a long history of developing, owning and operating neighborhood destinations combining shopping, dining, and entertainment in an immersive, pedestrian-friendly setting, so the Grove is a natural fit. The area has been a favorite of tourists for years, but we’re seeing more locals and year round residents desiring a retail district in the Grove that they can call their own. Our plan is to make sure CocoWalk becomes a part of their daily routine.
GlobeSt.com: Why did Federal choose to partner with two local firms, Grass River and Comras, in the acquisition?
Weilminster:The principals behind Grass River Property and The Comras Company are among the sharpest real estate minds in South Florida. Their local relationships and market knowledge will be critical to redeveloping CocoWalk and better integrating the property within the neighborhood.
Grass River’s partners have spent decades working with some of the biggest names in real estate and are now focused on infill development projects in South Florida’s best urban neighborhoods. Their offices are located in the Grove and they are very much our eyes and ears on the street.
The Comras Company is one of Miami’s most active retail leasing and development firms. They are an ideal partner when it comes to the strategy and execution behind CocoWalk’s repositioning, remerchandising, and marketing.
By Jennifer LeClaire
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