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Inside CocoWalk’s Retail Turnaround

Aug. 12, 2015

MIAMI—Three months after grabbing CocoWalk, a 198,000-square-foot lifestyle center in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, the ownership team has inked deals with five pop-up stores and Chase Bank. A team led by Federal Realty Investment, Grass River Property, and Comras Company acquired the iconic asset for $87.5 million in May.

Among the new retailers are two longtime Coconut Grove businesses relocating from the Engle building across the street—Catch A Wave surf shop and Via Art Gallery. Upscale men’s and women’s boutiques: Edite Mode, GCK International and Vicky Victoria are also setting up shop, along with a brand new 3,000-square-foot Chase Bank branch on the center’s ground floor along Grand Avenue. Comras negotiated the five pop-up leases on behalf of ownership.

“More so than most Miami neighborhoods, Coconut Grove enjoys a strong identity as being walkable, accessible and appealing to locals and visitors, with CocoWalk positioned as the village’s retail anchor,” says Michael Comras, president of Comras. “Anytime we can generate additional consumer foot traffic and help longtime Grove businesses remain in the neighborhood, as we’ve done by adding Catch A Wave and Via Gallery, we’re making progress toward our vision of a redeveloped CocoWalk that’s home to contemporary fashion brands, vibrant cafés and lifestyle tenants that draw locals.”

Located at the intersection of Main Highway, McFarlane Road and Grand Avenue, CocoWalk is a close commute to Miami’s Brickell, Downtown, Coral Gables, and Key Biscayne neighborhoods. Coconut Grove benefits from 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, proximity to a number of prominent schools, and one of Miami’s best-performing residential markets.

“The Grove benefits from a strong urban infrastructure, but we see a disconnect between the area’s affluent residential base and the retail mix at CocoWalk,” says Chris Weilminster, executive vice president for real estate and leasing at Federal. “Our new pop-up stores, which benefit from local operators and loyal customer bases, are an initial step in the right direction. Long-term, we plan to add new local, regional and national tenants while creating more connectivity with surrounding streets. Everything is on the table so long as it adds value for our tenants and the neighborhood.”

Constructed in 1990, the property sits on about three acres and is located just two miles from the University of Miami. CocoWalk’s overall trade area is uniquely affluent and dense with over 153,000 people and average household incomes of $110,000.

“We’re seeing an overall shift toward walkable, lifestyle-centric retail destinations and away from traditional suburban malls,” Weilminster tells GlobeSt.com. “Consumers and families are looking for experiences, be it a pedestrian-friendly environment with great amenities, unique and varied restaurant concepts or a wide array of local and national boutiques.”


By Jennifer LeClaire



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