It was an urban retail real estate broker’s dream: five blocks of Main Street storefront — almost 250,000 sq. ft. of it — sandwiched between beachfront and commercial business district. That’s what the owners of most of five contiguous blocks on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard plopped on the plate of Michael Comras . “The exciting part is that we have about 100,000 square feet available to us for remerchandising. We don’t have to go and create the opportunities. It’s there for us,” said Comras, CEO of The Comras Companies of Florida. “We can see a new type of customer coming into the area, and we will be appealing to that younger profile.” The three owners of 90% of those five blocks — Barron Real Estate, Las Olas Company, and Hudson Capital Group — want to migrate the popular shopping street away from catering to a Baby Boomer retiree clientele and position it more for Gen-X and Millennial newcomers who work and, increasingly, live in the area. Some 8,000 residential units have sprung up nearby, and an additional 7,000 units are in various different stages of construction. Established Las Olas retailers like Tommy Bahama and Sunglass Hut are now being joined by neighbors such as Bluemercury and Alex and Ani due to Comras’ leasing efforts. “The online retailers are something we’re really focused on also restaurants and lifestyle-oriented tenants like the Lululemons, Athleisures, and Sweaty Bettys,” said Comras, who worked on the retail leasing of Miami’s trendy Lincoln Road Mall. The remaking of that property lifted retail rents from what was around $30 to near $300, though Comras admits that Las Olas won’t hit those heights. “Lincoln Road was different,” he said, “but we’re suggesting we could do something special on Las Olas Boulevard when we reach critical mass.”
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