Four Seasons hotel deal tops biggest sales for first quarter

By Alexander Britell | April 21, 2010 07:18PM

The Four Seasons, center above, was the highest-price sale of the first quarter

South Florida’s top ten deals for the first quarter reached $258 million in total sales, according to data compiled by Real Capital Analytics for The Real Deal. After a whirlwind fourth quarter that saw $1.27 billion in total building sales, first-quarter numbers were lower than the last three months of 2009, but showed marked improvement on early 2009.

The data shows the top ten building sales were spread out among Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Heading the list was last month’s sale of the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell Avenue, which sold for a 65 percent discount by Millenium Partners.

Following the Four Seasons hotel was the Boynton Commons strip mall in Boynton Beach, the Coral Vista apartments in Fort Lauderdale, the Whitworth Farms retail space in Boynton Beach and the FAA Building in Hollywood.

Boynton Beach’s two retail sales, at Boynton Commons and Whitworth Farms, which each made the top ten, were examples of why properties in Palm Beach’s retail sector showed one of the greatest improvements over 2009 of any sector, according to the data.

According to Jonathan Satter, principal at WGCompass Realty Companies in West Palm Beach, the Whitworth Farms deal “was the ‘poster child’ for what you see in transactions occurring today, where the actual buyer bought the debt, and then foreclosed. So we don’t really know what they have into the property. You see a lot of that.” Satter’s company handles the leasing on Whitworth Farms.

“The small shop tenants are still having a pretty challenging time,” he said. “There are a lot of very-high quality retail centers that have lost some mid-size boxes,” he said.

“We’re seeing a number of retailers who are well-capitalized taking advantage of softness in the market. There are opportunities for a growing retailer that weren’t there three years ago. We’re starting to see some retailers that stopped their development in 2007, starting to hire some people, and ramp back up in terms of asking for a development plan.”

The increase in retail growth could be the sign of potentially rising property values in the sector.

The top sales were not concentrated in one category, although the Four Seasons deal was the only hotel in the top ten. Four of the sites were retail properties, the biggest of which was the Boynton Commons strip mall in Boynton Beach, which was purchased by Chicago’s Inland Real Estate Group for about $35 million. The 212,740-square-foot site was developed by Atlantic Coast Developers, based in Jacksonville. The biggest apartment deal was the Coral Vista, a 300-unit complex in Fort Lauderdale, purchased by Acumen Real Estate from Archstone.

Leading all of the area’s office deals was NGP Capital’s purchase of the FAA Building in Hollywood, which comes even as Broward County’s office vacancy rate stands at 24.5 percent, according to a recent report by Cushman & Wakefield.

The largest deal in terms of square footage in the area was the transaction for the former Hollywood Fashion Mall, at 101 S. State Road 7, which is 1.06 million square feet and was constructed in 1972.