Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Southern Commercial's 2009 Fourth Quarter Industrial Market Report for Central Florida

ORLANDO, FL--In a still uncertain economy, the commercial real estate market continues to be unstable.

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported the unemployment rate for the state of Florida is 11.5%.

 A significant increase from the 7.2% fi gure reported just one year earlier. In addition, Florida had the largest loss of jobs (16,700) in one month’s time during the month of November 2009. Many economists won’t predict a stabilization in commercial real estate activity until the job market is constant again, which has
not happened yet.

At year end 2009 both Seminole and Orange Counties had a total of 14.5 million square feet of direct vacant space out of the 86.5 million square feet. Whereas, at the end of 2008 a total of 9.6 million square feet of direct vacant space was reported. The fourth quarter absorption is (747,295) square feet, with a year to date absorption just under (4.7 million) square feet.

Asking rental rates continue to decrease, but only by pennies per square foot quarter by quarter, however these pennies add up if you are an owner or broker in today’s market. Industrial building sales only totaled $17 million at an average of $50.21 psf, which is down from the previous quarter’s sales of $58 million, but up from the second quarter’s mere $7 million.

The construction pipeline remains nonexistent, with only Lee Vista Business Center delivering in the fourth quarter, adding 333,330 square feet to the Airport/Southeast submarket.

The market continues to face the same challenges as the previous three quarters in 2009: the fi ght to obtain financing, and the decisions to accept or reject the $1.00psf deals. Time is the only solution to these challenges, but the question is how much time?

As we conclude 2009, the commercial real estate market closes one of its worst years in Central Florida’s history.
For a complete copy of the report, please contact:
Celeste MacKenzie, Production Assistant, Southern Commercial Real Estate Advisors, LLC, 20 N. Orange Ave., Suite 605, Orlando, FL 32801, 321.281.8503 Direct, 321.281.8519 Fax

D & A hires estimator at Central Florida headquarters

LONGWOOD, FL— B. Duke Gustincic (top right photo)  has been hired as an estimator in the waterproofing department of D & A Building Services Inc., a leading facility maintenance provider.

 Gustincic has 10 years of experience in construction, and served in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Prior to joining D & A, Gustincic was employed as an assistant project manager/superintendent at Don King’s Concrete and Masonry Inc. in Winter Springs, Fla. He has an Associate Degree  in Specialized Technology in Carpentry and Construction Technology from Triangle Tech in DuBois, Penn.

D & A Building Services Inc. provides facility maintenance services to property managers, building owners, and local, state and Federal governments. Founded in 1985, D & A performs full-service janitorial and specialized interior and exterior facility maintenance, landscape maintenance, full-service lawn and ornamental pest control, waterproofing, and construction clean up.

 The veteran-owned company is an Hispanic-Owned Business Enterprise, and a graduate of the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program. The Company has offices in Longwood, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Tampa, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., Madison, Wis., Dallas, Texas, and Detroit, Mich.

For additional information, please visit
PR Contact:  Elaine Ingra, (407) 384-1344

Orient-Express Hotels to Acquire Two Award Winning Hotels in Sicily

HAMILTON, Bermuda, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (NYSE: OEH,, owners or part-owners and managers of 50 luxury hotel, restaurant, tourist train and river cruise properties operating in 25 countries,  announced expansion plans in Italy.

The Company has signed a binding agreement to
purchase two distinctive properties in Taormina, Sicily from The Framon Group subject to completion conditions.

The 83-key Grand Hotel Timeo (middle  left photo)  ( is widely
considered the most luxurious hotel in Taormina and the nearby 78-key Villa Sant'Andrea (top right photo) ( has a private beach on the Bay of Mazzaro.

Under the agreement, scheduled for completion in late January, Orient-Express Hotels will acquire both properties for a combined price of EUR81million ($117 million) including the assumption of existing financing of EUR44 million ($64 million), a new medium term bank loan of EUR6 million ($9 million) and vendor financing of EUR5 million ($7 million).

The Company plans to invest EUR11 million ($16 million) in a major refurbishment program, to take place over three consecutive winter closures. The hotels will reopen to Orient-Express Hotels' standard in time for the 2010 summer season.

Commenting on the transaction, Paul White, (bottom right photo)  President and Chief Executive of Orient-Express Hotels said, "Having significantly strengthened our balance sheet in 2009 through the sale of non-core assets, we have identified this rare opportunity to acquire the internationally renowned Grand Hotel Timeo, with its sister hotel, Villa Sant'Andrea.

 "These hotels typify Orient-Express Hotels' core business - established properties with history and personality.

"Currently, they both punch below their weight and because they occupy a premier position in the Sicilian market, we are confident we can make significant improvements in performance, as we integrate the properties into the Orient-Express Hotels collection and bring RevPAR and operating margins in line with our existing Italian portfolio," White continued.

"Our prudent approach to funding this financially accretive acquisition, along with the Company's continued disposal of non-core assets and sales of developed Real Estate, should ensure that we remain on track to achieve our key financial objective of deleveraging the Company's balance sheet by the end of 2011."

Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination and was recently voted Conde Nast Traveller UK Readers' favorite holiday destination in the magazine's 2009 Travel Awards.

The Grand Hotel Timeo is adjacent to one of the city's most famous attractions, the legendary Greek Theater, which dates back to the 2nd century AD. Below, looking out across the sea, Villa Sant'Andrea, built in 1830, is right on the beach.

The two properties, linked by a private shuttle, have the synergy of Hotel Splendido and Splendido Mare, giving guests the best of both worlds Taormina has to offer.

The city has good transport links and is located 40 minutes from Catania International Airport, which has direct flights to all major European cities and good connections to those serving the US.

Built in 1873, the Grand Hotel Timeo occupies an excellent position in the historical center of the city. From the hotel's panoramic terrace, guests can admire spectacular views of Mount Etna (bottom left photo)  and the coastline.

Since the 19th century and the era of the Grand Tour, the hotel has been popular with an elite group of international travellers, who choose to vacation here.

The Company anticipates that post refurbishment, The Grand Hotel Timeo will trade at RevPAR levels closer to those of its key Italian properties, Hotel Cipriani in Venice and Hotel Splendido in Portofino.

Villa Sant'Andrea is located on the Bay of Mazzaro, the heart of Taormina's seaside district (bottom right photo) . The atmosphere is that of a private villa set in lush gardens, with a private beach. Several of the hotel's suites open onto a private terrace. The 'Oliviero' restaurant, on a panoramic terrace overlooking the Calabrian coast, is known for its fish and seafood specialities.

The Company anticipates that the Villa Sant'Andrea will trade, post the refurbishment which will lift it into a category of its own among the beachfront hotels, at RevPAR levels closer to those achieved at its properties Hotel Caruso in Ravello and Villa San Michele in Florence.

Martin O'Grady, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Tel: +44-20-7921-4038, E:
Pippa Isbell, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Tel: +44-20-7921-4065, E:

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler Arranges Financing for Properties in California, Illinois and Texas

 Albertson’s and Rite Aid-anchored retail center In San Diego Refinanced for $10.8M

IRVINE, CA – The Orange County office of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.) announced today that it has arranged a $10.8 million refinancing for Tierrasanta Town Center, a 126,315-square-foot Albertson’s and Rite Aid-anchored retail center in the Tierrasanta submarket of San Diego, California.

HFF director Mark Erland worked on behalf of the borrower, Terramar Retail Centers, to secure the six-year fixed-rate loan with a 30-year amortization through Aetna Life Insurance Company. Loan proceeds were used to pay off an existing insurance company loan on the property that was maturing.

“In addition to a term, amortization and rate that met the borrower’s expectations, Aetna was able to provide a loan approval upon loan application, which provided certainty in what has been a challenging financing market,” said Erland. “Aetna was able to understand the center’s favorable real estate fundamentals in order to mitigate any market risk.”


Mark J. Erland, CA License # 01222797, HFF Director, (949) 798-4113,
Kristen M. Murphy, HFF Associate Director Marketing, (713) 852-3500,

Suburban Chicago Multi-housing Complex Obtains 10-Year Loan

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago office of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.) has arranged acquisition financing for Waterford Place, a 280-unit multi-housing complex in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

HFF director Matthew Schoenfeldt (middle left photo)  worked on behalf of the borrower, Waterford Place Apartments, LLC, to secure the 10-year, fixed-rate loan through Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation).

Waterford Place Apartments, LLC is a partnership between Legacy Real Estate Development, LLC of Deerfield, Illinois, and Tarson Investments, LLC.

The investors purchased Waterford Place from an institutional seller, who was represented by HFF’s multi-housing investment sales team. In addition to acquiring the property, the investors are seeking to deploy an additional $50 million of equity into income-producing real estate assets.

“Freddie Mac continues to be a very attractive option for stabilized, institutional-quality apartment product such as Waterford Place,” said Schoenfeldt. “Their CME program is clearly the most attractive multi-housing financing option available today in terms of pricing and proceeds.”


Matthew R. Schoenfeld, HFF Director, (312) 528-3650,
Kristen M. Murphy, HFF Associate Director, Marketing, (713) 852-3500

HFF arranges refinance of GSA-leased facility in McAllen, TX

HOUSTON, TX – The Houston and Dallas offices of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.)  have arranged a financial joint venture for 3000 West Military Highway, a 68,564-square-foot facility fully leased to the General Services Administration (GSA) in McAllen, Texas.

The HFF team, led by senior managing directors Dan Miller (bottom right photo) and Mona Carlton (bottom left photo)  and real estate analyst Trent Agnew represented the owner, McAllen CBP, LLC. A private real estate group entered into a joint venture with the owner and assumed existing debt as part of the agreement.

Completed in 2009, 3000 West Military Highway is fully leased to the GSA (Department of Homeland Security - Customs & Border Protection) and serves as a flagship processing and administration facility, a regional emergency headquarters and a maintenance facility for vehicles used by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).

 The property accommodates more than 350 CBP agents and is situated on nearly 24 acres that is conveniently located between the old and new international bridges, which connect McAllen and Hidalgo, Texas, with Reynosa, Mexico.

McAllen CBP, LLC is a joint venture partnership between FD Partners, LLC, an Arlington, VA-based development and services company that focuses exclusively on the federal government real estate sector, and Live Oak-Gottesman, an Austin, TX-based full-service real estate firm.

H. Dan Miller, CCIM, SIOR, HFF Senior Managing Director, (713) 852-3500,
Mona K. Carlton, HFF Senior Managing Director, (214) 265-0880,
Kristen M. Murphy, HFF Associate Director, Marketing, (713) 852-3500,

Marcus & Millichap Sells 30-Unit Apartment Building in Tampa, FL

TAMPA, FL – Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, the nation’s largest real estate investment services firm, has announced the sale of Oakmont Apartments, (top left photo)  a 30-unit apartment property located in Tampa, FL, according to Bryn D. Merrey, Regional Manager of the firm’s Tampa office.

The asset commanded a sales price of $1,800,000.

Francesco P. Carriera (middle right photo)  and Nicholas Meoli, investment specialists in Marcus & Millichap’s Tampa office, had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, a bank/financial institution.

 Michael Harris, an associate with Marcus & Millichap's Special Assets Services division assisted Carriera and Meoli in the transaction. The buyer, a limited liability company, was also secured and represented by Carriera and Meoli.

“The property received a tremendous amount of interest due to its location in South Tampa, also because it was a failed condo conversion owned by former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar (bottom left photo)  that had been foreclosed upon”, stated Carriera.

“We received over 100 interested parties and generated 29 offers in only five weeks. The bank offered seller financing for a qualified buyer and selected a current local market owner who took advantage of the seller financing in order to add this REO asset to his portfolio.”

“The bank presented the buyer with favorable terms on the loan because he was very well qualified. They also were attracted to this buyer because of his plan to invest money in exterior improvement, including Oakmont’s landscaping and its courtyard.

" However, the buyer’s initial 60-day plan is to lease up the property as it was only 50 percent occupied at the time of sale. The South Tampa rental market is still holding strong, averaging approximately 92 percent and the buyer had several leases signed prior to closing” added Carriera.

Oakmont Apartments is located at 3215 West Swann Avenue.

Press Contact:  Bryn D. Merrey, Regional Manager, Tampa, (813) 387-4700

Thomas D. Wood & Co. Finds Financing for Fort Worth, TX Property

MIAMI, FL-- Thomas D. Wood and Company, a Strategic Alliance Mortgage LLC member, secured financing in the amount of $2,400,000 for Great Southwest Industrial in Fort Worth, Texas.

Thomas D. Wood, Jr., (top right photo)  Company President, refinanced Great Southwest Industrial through Thomas D. Wood and Company’s correspondent relationship with Summit Investment Partners. The fixed-rate loan has a term of 10 years, based on a 20-year amortization and a loan-to-value of 60%.

The interest rate is 6.5%. The multi-building industrial development was built between the years 1968 and 1980, for a total of 190,029 square feet. Great Southwest Industrial is located at 812 E. Northside Drive, 5001-03 N. Freeway, and 5116 NE Parkway, Fort Worth, Texas.

For further information, please contact:

Tom Wood, Jr,  (305) 447-7830,
Jessica Kinnee, (407) 937-0470,

Marcus Millichap Lists 2 Properties in Maryland and Florida With Total Listing Tags of $41M

 $29.6M Walgreens Portfolio in Maryland on Block 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, the nation’s largest real estate investment services firm, has the listing for a $29.8 million four-property Walgreens portfolio in Maryland. The properties are also available separately.

Mark Taylor, a vice president investments and a director of the firm’s Net Leased Properties Group (NLPG) in Philadelphia, and Dean Zang, (top right photo) an associate vice president investments and an associate director of the NLPG, also in Philadelphia, are representing the seller, a Maryland-based developer.

 David Feldman, (top left photo)  regional manager of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, is also providing representation.

“It’s rare to find a portfolio of drug stores in the Mid Atlantic region today,” says Zang. “These sites may be most appealing to1031-exchange buyers, especially with the properties’ proximity to the infill markets of Washington, D.C., Annapolis and Baltimore.”

The properties are:

· 498 Ritchie Highway in Severna Park: 14,784 square feet on 1.65 acres with a new 20-year triple-net lease; the list price of $10,333,333 represents $699 per square foot

· 701 Washington Ave. in Chestertown: (middle right photo) 4,952 square feet on 1.3 acres with a new 25-year triple-net lease; the list price of $7,400,000 represents $494 per square foot

· 1800 Main St. in Chester (Kent Island): 14,550 square feet on 1.75 acres with a new 25-year triple net lease; the list price of $6,800,000 represents $467 per square foot

· Route 40 and Whitehall Road in Elkton: 13,721 square feet on 1.25 acres with a new 25-year triple-net lease, the list price of $5,066,666 represents $369 per square foot

$10.9M REO Waterfront Development Site in West Palm Beach, FL Up for Sale

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, the nation’s largest real estate investment services firm, has retained the exclusive listing for Mizner Lakes, a 21.49-acre REO waterfront development site in West Palm Beach. The listing price is $10,992,000, or $16,000 per buildable unit.

(Royal Park Bridge to West Palm Beach, middle left photo)

Evan P. Kristol, a senior vice president investments, and Still Hunter III, a first vice president investments, both in the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office, are representing the seller, a Minnesota-based financial institution.

“The previous owner acquired the property in April 2006 for $34,840,000,” says Kristol. “Their intent was to develop 677 residential units and 20,900 square feet of retail.

Currently, there is an approved site plan for that project, which was to be called Mizner Lakes,” adds Kristol.

“Due to the downturn in the market, the development never broke ground,” explains Hunter. “There is an approved development order in place with the City of West Palm Beach. Retail use is no longer permitted in this underlying zoning district,” adds Hunter.

Located on Hank Aaron Drive, south of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard in West Palm Beach, the site is situated on a 400-foot wide canal and has 851 feet of frontage on Hank Aaron Drive.

The location is around the corner from the Palm Beach Mall, (bottom left photo) minutes from downtown West Palm Beach and less than one mile east of Interstate 95. The property is also two miles north of Palm Beach International Airport and less than four miles from Florida's Turnpike.

The Mizner Lakes site is zoned for residential planned development (RPD) but has an underlying multifamily use zoning (MF-32) that allows a maximum density of 32 units per gross acre, which equates to 687 units.

Press Contact: Stacey Corso, Communications Department, 925-953-1716

Alta Towne Lake Apartment Community in Pooler, GA on Market for $27.2M

ATLANTA, GA--Engler Financial Group, LLC is pround to present Alta Towne Lake, (top left photo)  an upscale 312 unit garden-style Class “A” apartment community located in Pooler, Chatham County, Georgia within the Savannah MSA.

Alta Towne Lake is being offered for sale for $27,200,000 and represents an excellent opportunity to purchase a well located apartment community with attractive below market tax-exempt bond financing.

The property currently has $20,000,000 in outstanding bonds that are enhanced through a Bank of America letter of credit which matures in July 2010. Recent refinance quotes from Freddie Mac's affordable housing group indicate 10 year fixed rate enhancements in the low 5% range, which are approximately 100 basis points below current conventional financing.

Situated just off Interstate-95 and Pooler Parkway, Alta Towne Lake has outstanding proximity to major employment centers, transportation arteries,and retail shopping.

The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (2 miles east) and the Port of Savannah (6 miles east) are both major economic drivers in the region. The property is also strategically located within Savannah's logistics hub.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a tour of Alta Towne Lake, please contact Greg Engler, Pat Jones or Kris Mikkelsen. We look forward to working with you on this exciting opportunity.


Greg Engler, 678/992-2000, ext. 1,
 Pat Jones, 678/992-2000, ext. 2,
 Kris Mikkelsen, 678/992-2000, ext. 4,

Wilson Commercial Real EState Completes Leases with Dollar Tree at 6 Locations in Southern California

LOS ANGELES, CA – Wilson Commercial Real Estate, one of Southern California’s leading retail brokerage firms, has completed leases with Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. at six locations in Southern California. Dollar Tree Inc., with nearly 4,000 stores, is the nation's leading operator of discount variety stores selling everything for $1 or less.

An 11,250-square-foot, five year lease at Plaza Las Glorias (middle right photo)  located at 1155 Mt. Vernon in Colton, Calif. Scott Burns (top left photo) of Wilson Commercial Real Estate in partnership with Lea Clay of Studley Retail Services represented the tenant in the transaction. The landlord represented itself.

· An 11,250-square-foot, five year lease at Telephone Road Plaza (bottom left photo)  located at 4738 Telephone Road in Ventura, Calif. Scott Burns of Wilson Commercial Real Estate in partnership with Studley Retail Services represented the tenant in the transaction. Rob Devericks of Hagelis Group represented the building landlord.

· An 11,213-square-foot, five year lease at Signal Hill Gateway located at Atlantic Avenue and E. Spring Street in Signal Hill, Calif. Scott Burns of Wilson Commercial Real Estate and John Beaney of Studley Retail Services represented the tenant in the transaction. Mike Jensen of Pacific Retail Partners represented the building landlord.

A 10,017-square-foot, five year lease at Palm Plaza located at 26455 Ynez Road in Temecula, Calif. Scott Burns of Wilson Commercial Real Estate in partnership with Lea Clay of Studley Retail Services represented the tenant in the transaction. The landlord represented itself.

· A 9,600-square-foot, five year lease at Gateway Plaza located at 1642 Puente Avenue in Baldwin Park, Calif. Scott Burns of Wilson Commercial Real Estate in partnership with Studley Retail Services represented the tenant in the transaction. Jesse Paster of NAI Capital represented the building landlord.

· A 9,350-square-foot, seven year lease at Goldenwest McFadden Plaza located at 15412 Goldenwest Street in Westminster, Calif. Scott Burns of Wilson Commercial Real Estate in partnership with Paul Bartlett of Studley Retail Services represented the tenant in the transaction. Tipton Wright of Marketing Brokers represented the building owner.

“Dollar Tree is very bullish on this market,” said Scott Burns, senior vice president of Wilson Commercial Real Estate. “We are aggressively looking throughout Southern California for new store locations on behalf of Dollar Tree.”

Founded in 1990, Wilson Commercial Real Estate has leased and sold over 5 million square feet of retail space with an aggregate consideration of nearly $750 million.

 The company currently represents 9 million square feet of retail space in 85 shopping centers throughout Southern California. In 2008, Wilson Commercial Real Estate expanded their services to include tenant representation and formed an Investment Sales Group that provides a complete range of investment sales services for our clients’ acquisition and disposition requirements.

For more information, please visit
Contact: David Ebeling, Ebeling Communications, (949) 278-7851,

Related Group Sells High-Rise Condo Site In Downtown Miami

MIAMI, FL--The Related Group, South Florida's largest condominium developer, has unloaded a Downtown Miami development site for a proposed high-rise condominium tower at a discount of at least 33 percent below the original purchase price, according to a new report from

The Related Group's TRG - Downtown Loft III Ltd. with five principals including Jorge Perez, (top right photo)  sold three lots with a combined 28,500 square feet of developable land for $4.3 million, or $151 per square foot, in a deal recorded Dec. 30, 2009. Matthew J. Allen, the Related Group's executive vice president and chief operating officer, signed the deed, according to Miami-Dade County records.

Contact:  Peter Zalewski of Condo Vultures®,  800-750-0517 or by email at

Grubb & Ellis Represents Pacific Resources Stevenson in Purchase of 49 Stevenson St. for $24.2M

Transaction marks first large office sale of 2010 in downtown San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Grubb & Ellis Company (NYSE: GBE), a leading real estate services and investment firm, announced it exclusively represented Taiwan-based Pacific Resources Stevenson in the purchase of 49 Stevenson St.,(top right photo)  a 126,110-square-foot Class A office building located in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.

The purchase represents the first Class A office building sale to take place in 2010 in San Francisco.

Pacific Resources Stevenson purchased the property in an all-cash transaction from a U.S. institutional seller for $24.2 million, which is approximately 40 percent below its current assessed value.

Daniel Cressman, executive vice president, along with team members Michael Taquino, vice president, and Kyle Kovac, senior associate, represented the buyer in the purchase of the 15-story office building completed in 1989. The property is anchored by multiple office tenants, including M+W Zander and Hitachi Consulting, as well as retail tenant Yank Sing Restaurant.

“This transaction marks the beginning of offshore investors returning to the San Francisco office market after having sat on the sidelines for nearly 10 years,” said Cressman. 

(Golden Gate Bridge top left photo)

“In addition, the downtown market is attracting more than 20 purchasers for each major property that comes to the market, resulting from the recent decrease in values that are predicted to continue through the first half of 2010.”

Contact:  Julia McCartney, Phone: 714.975.2230, Email:

Grubb & Ellis Company Selected to Market  524,518-SF Warehouse/Distribution Facility in North Brunswick, NJ

EDISON, NJ-– Grubb & Ellis Company (NYSE: GBE), a leading real estate services and investment firm,  announced that it has been selected to market a 524,518-square-foot warehouse/distribution facility available for sale or lease located at 1665 Jersey Avenue in North Brunswick.

Ben Shapiro, executive vice president, and George Molloy, senior vice president, both in the company’s Edison office, are the team responsible for marketing the asset.

Originally built for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and currently occupied by Church & Dwight, the building features 20,981 square feet of office space on two levels, ceiling heights of 25 to 28 feet clear, 38 dock doors, 22 rail doors, heavy power, high density sprinklers, ample car and trailer parking and a full concrete apron.

The building is strategically located just off the Jersey Avenue Exit of Route 1 and is divisible into 100,000-square-foot sections.

Contact: Erin MaysPhone: 312.698.6735Email:

Michael D. Mason Joins Grubb & Ellis as Director, Retail Occupier Services in Chicago

CHICAGO, IL– Grubb & Ellis Company (NYSE: GBE), a leading real estate services and investment firm, t announced that Michael D. Mason (top right photo) has joined the firm as director, Retail Occupier Services, effective immediately.

“Michael brings tremendous retail real estate and client service experience,” said Branson Edwards, executive vice president and managing director of Grubb & Ellis’ Retail Occupier Services. “Bringing him on board helps us enhance the level of service we provide to our retail occupier clients nationally.”

Mason, 32, comes to Grubb & Ellis from Mid-America Real Estate Corporation, where he was a broker associate involved in the development and leasing of more than 2 million square feet of retail space and was the firm’s primary disposition expert.

Prior to joining Mid-America in 2006, Mason spent seven years at Hewitt Associates, LLC, where he first served as an analyst and then an account manager responsible for managing benefits outsourcing services contracted to prominent Fortune 500 clients.

Contact: Erin Mays, Phone: 312.698.6735, Email:

2,350 New Condos Sell In Downtown Miami In 2009

MIAMI, FL--Buyers purchased 700 new condos from developers in Greater Downtown Miami - the epicenter of South Florida's housing crash - in the fourth quarter, increasing the total number of transactions for the year of 2009 to more than 2,350 units, according to a new White Paper report from

Before any talk of a bottom in Greater Downtown Miami can begin, it is important to consider that the fourth quarter new condo purchases represent a 27 percent decrease on a quarter-over-quarter basis compared to the 955 closings in the third quarter of 2009, according to the report.

In the first half of the year, there were 246 new condo closings in the second quarter and 465 new condo closings in the first quarter in Greater Downtown Miami, according to the report.

"Buyers, primarily with cash, purchased an average of 6.5 new condo units per day from developers in 2009," said Peter Zalewski, (top left photo)  a principal with the Bal Harbour, Fla.-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures® LLC.

"The buying activity really picked up velocity in the second half of the year once retail condo prices were slashed by lenders from $300 per square foot down to $200 per square foot, which is in many cases below the replacement cost of the finished product.

"The new prices triggered a buying frenzy by foreign nationals with strong currencies and private equity groups that finally began to purchase, completing a dozen condo bulk deals in the Brickell Avenue Area, Downtown Miami, and the Biscayne Boulevard Corridor in 2009."

Zalewski said it is unclear how much of an effect the lack of condo financing in Greater Downtown Miami had on the final transaction totals for 2009.

Contact:  Peter Zalewski, Condo Vultures®, 800-750-0517 or