The Real Deal Miami

Is Robb and Stucky bankruptcy impacting South Florida retail?

July 13, 2011 03:26PM
By Alexander Britell

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Robb & Stucky’s Mizner Park location

Despite being the second high-profile bankruptcy to impact the region this year, brokers said the Robb & Stucky filing would have a small impact on the commercial retail market.

Florida retailer Robb & Stucky, which filed for Chapter 11 protection earlier this year, will eventually leave several large swathes of South Florida retail empty.

But in a stronger retail market that recently got a jumpstart from the entry of electronics retailer hhgregg, that impact may not be significant.

“The space will find a user,” said NAI/Merin Hunter Codman’s Robert Klecinsky, a retail broker. “There could be other furniture lines that could be taking the space, other big-box users,” he said.  

Klecinsky, who tends to deal in higher-end properties, especially on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, mentioned the chain’s location in North Palm Beach, which was the product of a large-scale build-out, as a potentially attractive option.

“My experience is that this year is better than last year, and people are starting to get their confidence back,” he said. “Things have settled down, and sales are starting to pick back up.”

Fort Myers-based Robb & Stucky, which began operating in 1915, has South Florida locations in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park and in Palm Beach Gardens, and the majority of its stores nationwide are in Southwest Florida. It also has a free-standing patio store at 906 North Federal Highway in Boca Raton. The company has a total of 20 locations across four states, the majority of which are in southwest Florida.

“I don’t believe that the Robb & Stucky bankruptcy is going to have a noticeable effect on the South Florida retail market, mainly because there were not that many locations,” said Drew Kristol, senior associate at Marcus & Millichap based in Miami. He said the amount of pain landlords would feel would depend on several factors, including the size of the box going dark, the current rents in comparison to what the company had been paying and the amount of debt landlords are servicing.  

South Florida, which Klecinsky said had seen a nearly 50 percent drop in vacancies in the higher-end market, received a boost earlier this year when Indianapolis-based hhgregg entered South Florida, where it’s now preparing 10 stores for opening at the end of this week. Many of those locations were the former sites of defunct retailers Circuit City and Linens ‘N Things.

Juan Antunez, a broker for the Miami-based Keyes Company, said that the departure of larger stores like Robb & Stucky would not necessarily have a negative impact.

“When a big-box goes under, I don’t really think it has too much of an effect [on the rest of the shopping center],” he said. “If it was a big-box, it was a destination store, and people went there because they were attracted by the marketing of that particular big-box. People are still going to be going to the other stores for whatever reasons they want to go.”

The Robb & Stucky bankruptcy followed the announcement that bookstore chain Borders had filed for bankruptcy. Borders had three locations in South Florida out of a total of 15 in the state.

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