The Real Deal Miami

Q & A with Ellen Blasi of the Green Companies

The leasing expert on suburban Miami, Class B and CREW
By Alexander Britell | May 06, 2011 02:36PM

Ellen Blasi is the director of leasing at the Green Companies, one of
South Florida’s largest developers, along with being an officer at
Commercial Real Estate Women MIAMI, or CREW. The Green Companies has
developed residential, commercial and mixed-USE development, with recent
projects headlined by the Towers of Dadeland in South Miami. The Green
Companies’ Dadeland Centre II office complex
yesterday
announced a permanent financing
by CB Richard Ellis. The Real Deal
talked to Blasi about leasing in Miami’s suburban markets, the
Class
B office market
and how networking in organizations like CREW has
changed in the downturn.

What have you been seeing in the office market, especially in areas south of downtown Miami?

We’ve definitely seen an uptick. What I’m seeing is a lot of expansion. Between the last quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year, I think I had five tenants expand — which is, in our [suburban] demographic, a lot. We’ve also had some new tenants. At Dadeland Centre I and II, which are our premier properties, we’re almost at full capacity, as we are at our B properties as well.

How has the Class B office market been faring?

It’s somewhat price sensitive. But I think here in Dadeland, there are more B properties, so there’s more of a choice for folks who are looking at that price bracket, so the properties have to be really well-run and maintained.

How have your projects been performing?

At Dadeland Centre I and II, I’m at almost 100 percent occupancy. Dadeland West is in the high 90s, and the Greenery Mall in Dadeland is in the 90s as well. [Dadeland] has definitely seen an uptick. In Doral they have as well. I don’t know if the recovery is greater in the suburban markets, but there are some areas that are improving.

What kind of tenants are you seeing across your projects?

Typically, we get some law firms, and we have some law firms that are expanding. We’ve also gotten some insurance brokerages back again, which is a business that seems to be making a sort of recovery. We’ve got medical supply, along with product brokerages for Latin America.

A big trend in residential real estate in Miami has been the growth of foreign buyers. Is that something happening on the commercial side?

We’re still seeing companies that have Latin American or international headquarters in South Florida, where their principals live in Pinecrest or Coral Gables, and they don’t need or want to go into the Gables or downtown. Since we provide the product that they’re looking for, as far as amenities and so on, they don’t have to.

How has CREW Miami’s networking changed in the downturn?

When we were in the downturn, everybody was trying to get into a real estate job of some sort. Now that that’s all shaken out, the professionals in the field realize that their networking with their peers is really important. Our organization has become a lot stronger in the last few years. In any organization, when you become active in it and you start getting business from it, that’s going to keep you very invested with it.