REALTY BIZ NEWS — FEBRUARY 8, 2021 — BY JAMIE RICHARDSON 2020 brought to fruition many trends that may have just been a seedling of change pre-pandemic. No industry has come out of the initial impact unscathed. The commercial real estate market was no exception to this widespread avalanche of change and has taken a hard hit from the pandemic in seemingly every realm. Why rent out office space when the pandemic has proven work can be virtual? Why should shoppers go to a retail store when it’s safer to shop online? What’s the point in taking a risk at opening a restaurant during this? Fortunately, there is one thing the pandemic couldn’t change – human nature’s inherent need for connection. Meaning that while a paradigm shift may be in order for commercial real estate, extinction is not necessary.
On account of its warm weather, Florida’s real estate market continues to drive the state’s economy, even amidst an ongoing global pandemic. Warm weather is certainly an advantage, but the path to a new normal has by no means been easy on account of the warmth. Innovative solutions to the suddenly outdated protocols, systems and operations have proven vital in helping the state get back on its feet. In particular, real estate firms’ response to this challenge heavily influenced the state’s rebound from the first few months of shutdown. Florida’s leading commercial real estate firm, Terranova Corp. led by Chairman Stephen Bittel, has certainly done its part. The firm and its partner’s portfolio includes nearly $1 billion in commercial real estate assets, with two of these properties being the heavily trafficked and coveted Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile and Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road. As a Miami native himself, Bittel’s core mission in growing his firm has always been rooted in community growth.
Terranova, led by Bittel, has certainly carried its mission of community growth forward into its response to COVID-19. Outdoor dining is critically important for restaurants, but what about when they don’t have the outdoor space? The need to maximize outdoor dining space prompted Terranova’s building of Skyyard Miami. Skyyard Miami is a 3,320-square-foot lounge located above Lincoln Eatery food hall in Miami Beach that will provide additional space for people to gather safely. “Skyyard Miami will change the Lincoln Road experience,” Stephen Bittel said in a statement. “By launching a rooftop, visitors to Miami Beach will have the opportunity to mingle and celebrate among the stars. In the near future, guests will dine and drink together in a social environment on one of Lincoln Road’s only rooftop spaces.” In addition to providing the community with more space to safely gather, Skyyard Miami’s development and construction provided badly needed job opportunities. Even the backdrop of the lounge showcases local talent with a mural painted by local artists FL.MINGO, Marcus Blake and Z’FLORIST.
Skyyard Miami is just one example of Terranova Corp.’s approach to the pandemic – work with the current of change rather than swim up river. Besides providing outdoor gathering space, Terranova has also been a leader in leasing during COVID. Under the strong leadership of Terranova Corp. President Mindy McIlory, Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile and Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road welcomed eighteen new tenants for a total value of $7.9 million. In an effort to fill a growing number of retail vacancies, Terranova found its footing in the rapidly evolving real estate landscape by lowering asking rates and trying out temporary occupancy, aka pop-ups. In total, three new pop-ups, four new food hall purveyors, a rooftop lounge, three new restaurants, six artist studios and a library joined Lincoln Road and Coral Gables’ vibrant mix of destinations. In Bittel’s words, “We wanted to provide an opportunity to small businesses, restaurateurs and artists to locate themselves in a bustling and enviable location, create increased activity, and simultaneously fill vacancies created by long-term shutdowns. Despite the ongoing pandemic, South Florida’s retail real estate market is healthy and active.”