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Terry Salzman left South Florida three years ago to work in London on international retail real estate. But now he’s back, as head of Addison, TX-based Staubach Retail’s office in that region, based in Boca Raton. Before heading overseas, Salzman did retail leasing, management and development for Cushman & Wakefield. His duties now include tenant representation, investment sales and land sales for retail and mixed-use real estate projects. Salzman spoke with GSR Ticket last week about his new role and trends he’s seeing in the market to which he has recently returned.

GSR: What is Staubach’s South Florida strategy?

Salzman: Staubach has been underrepresented the South Florida market for the last couple of years. It’s been a two-pronged approach. John Artope, my counterpart in the Orlando office, has been on board for almost a year. He relocated to Orlando from the Dallas office. My returning back to South Florida is completing the leadership team for Florida. Staubach Retail operates in geographic regions, the Southeast region basically has Florida and Atlanta. There’s also an office in Mobile, AL, and those four offices and the people who head those are making up the management team. The company has always served the area, but because of the absence in South Florida, it really hasn’t grown there in the last couple years. Everything we have done has been generated by someone else in the country and executed by associate brokers out of the Boca Raton, FL, office.

GSR: How will your experience working abroad assist in your new position?

Salzman: In London we lived in the city, so it was a very urban environment. Seeing the density and understanding how the retail has been molded to that dense population is going to be particularly useful in South Florida as the population growth. If you look at the opportunities to expand west, everything is bouncing back to the east and going vertical. Residential units are going up high and with that you’re going to have a higher density and see retailers change to look at that. London was very much a walking and public-transport community. I would think that over the next decade or two that’s going to be the continued evolution of South Florida and other parts of the Florida as well as the population continues to grow. It also exposed me to a number of new tenants, different architectural styles and methods of creating shopping centers. I think that will be useful as we look at representing developers in the Florida marketplace.

GSR: What has changed in the area since you left the marketplace?

Salzman: I think the biggest change has been the prevalence of the mixed-use project, especially in the Southeast Florida, how that has really exploded over the last couple of years. Office Depot has come in and done a tremendous amount of work. One specific tenant from my time has really come in and rounded out their position. That would be the one tenant I would tell has been really solidifying their position in Southeast Florida.

GSR: Do you find the mixed-use projects are more retailer or developer driven?

Salzman: It’s being driven by the developer. It’s being created by the price of land. It is very expensive to acquire the dirt and build today given the economy. In South Florida there have been a lot of things under construction, so the construction prices are high. But I think the overriding reason is that you look at the local communities and their governing boards are really pushing for the creation of the mixed-use product. They want to see residential in closer to the city centers. They’re looking to try to create a town square, creating a downtown corridor. It’s been the last few years that’s really started to take shape. It will be a bit of an issue for tenants because all of a sudden you’re selling them something different and giving them a different environment to operate in. As we get more experience in dealing with that it’s just going to become easier because it’s probably going to be one of the main avenues of growth in South Florida.

GSR: Is there any land left in the region for significant retail development?

There is space today. It becomes more challenging and more expensive. There is going to be the repositioning of existing assets and turning those around. Specific cities in South Florida are going through changes as well as a demographics change. The population of the communities shifts, so I think retail development is going to follow or be ahead of those shifts. But you won’t see more regional malls, you won’t see too many more 500,000-sf power centers. You’ll still see some big boxes coming in. If you look at some of the work that Target has done is Southeast Florida, it’s been big on vertical. They’re going to two stories.

GSR: What sets the region apart from other areas of the state, or are its trends taking place in all of Florida?

Salzman: I think it has been forced upon South Florida, given the shortage of land and the completion of development out west. There aren’t any new residential tracts left to put your grocery-anchored centers in the middle. But you do see it in the city center of Orlando, in Tampa and even some of the smaller cities in Southwest Florida. Fort Myers for example has got projects which are not necessarily being driven by the shortage of land, but by taking well-positioned, waterfront land and doing vertical construction. It’s probably more driven more by residential.

GSR: Are there any specific types of tenants making a push in the area more than others, or is everyone pursuing it?

Salzman: I think everyone is doing it. What we’re seeing in Southern Florida are the anchor tenants trying to position themselves, trying to better their position and get ahead of the demographic shifts. I don’t think there’s any one tenant or category that is noticeable different than the others. The ones that are going to have the biggest challenge right now are the big-box tenants because of their size. But they’re also a destination use, so if they aren’t at the idea corner and they’re in close proximity, the consumer will find them.

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