The Real Deal Miami

Musical chairs: JLL out, Cushman & Wakefield in at Miami Tower

JLL lost competitive bid process started by Sumitomo soon after tower's acquisition

October 04, 2016 06:10PM
By Sean Stewart-Muniz

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Eric Groffman, the Miami Tower and Gordon Messinger

Eric Groffman, the Miami Tower and Gordon Messinger

When Sumitomo Corporation of Americas bought downtown Miami’s iconic Miami Tower for $220 million in May, JLL wasted no time in announcing it would stay on as the building’s leasing and property management firm.

But five months later, the company’s fortunes appear to have changed.

As part of its plan to inject new life into the building, Sumitomo has terminated JLL and brought on a trio of firms to fill the gap left behind: Cushman & Wakefield, Transwestern and CBRE.

Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE will now handle leasing for the building’s expansive office and retail spaces, respectively, while Transwestern will head up property management, the firms announced this week.

The switch follows a months-long bidding process that Sumitomo launched in June, not long after the company took control of the 47-story office tower and began planning a capital improvements program aimed at energizing its common spaces.

JLL had participated in the bid but lost out to the other firms, sources told The Real Deal. A representative from the brokerage declined comment.

Tom Wada, Sumitomo Corporation of America’s senior vice president, told TRD that it was his firm’s past relationship with Transwestern that led to the decision. The brokerage had handled leasing for Miami Center, another trophy office building in the downtown area, during Sumitomo’s four-year ownership stint that ended in 2012.

For Cushman & Wakefield, the assignment is a major win, adding 631,000 square feet of Class A office space to its portfolio in the downtown area. Sumitomo liked that Gordon Messinger, Cushman’s director, had previous experience handling leasing at Miami Tower when he still worked at Transwestern before switching teams, Wada said.

Messinger has his work cut out for him. He said the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services is gearing up to vacate its 51,285-square-foot lease at the building in the second quarter of next year, leaving a huge chunk of space up for grabs at the tower.

Data from the CoStar Group shows the building’s occupancy is currently at 92.5 percent, with asking rents ranging between $45 and $51 per square foot.

While Messinger looks to drum up new tenants, Transwestern will be coordinating with Sumitomo to prioritize capital improvement projects. Bruce Ford, president of the company’s Southeastern U.S. division, said plans are still in the “evaluation phase.” But a more concrete plan should be on the books by next year.

“All options are on the table,” Ford said. “Everything from improving the amenity base to the very simple idea of, “How do you provide areas that are very welcoming and inviting?”