Michael Comras plans to bring a new vibe to the retail market in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Comras and his senior director of retail leasing Jeffrey Evans were hired to handle leasing for the three major property owners along a four-block stretch of Las Olas Boulevard, which control about 90 percent of storefronts: Las Olas Companies, Barron Real Estate and Hudson Capital Group. In all, the Comras Company is handling about 250,000 square feet of retail space from U.S. 1, where the Cheesecake Factory is, going east toward the canal.
“Those four blocks for years have been sort of held back,” Comras told The Real Deal. “These independent owners are banding together to remerchandise and restrategize.”
He and Evans are launching leasing at ICSC New York on Monday and Tuesday, and have started wrapping storefronts with new marketing materials. The 250,000 square feet includes 50,000 square feet of new space and another 50,000 square feet that’s underway, Evans said. Las Olas Co. is building Las Olas Place, a two-story, 30,000-square-foot retail and office building across the street from American Social, a restaurant and bar on the corner of Eighth Avenue and the boulevard.
Comras declined to provide asking rents, but said that market rents currently range from $70 a square foot to $80 a squre foot. He plans to bring in similar tenant mixes like those on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road and Sunset Harbour, and in Coconut Grove, including small fitness companies, home furnishings and accessories, athleisure, and high-tech stores.
Just west of the Las Olas shops is Fort Lauderdale’s central business district, where the Related Group is building Icon Las Olas. To the east are high-end single-family homes, and to the north, Flagler Village, which is undergoing significant redevelopment geared toward attracting millennials and baby boomers. More than 40 projects are in the pipeline in Flagler Village.
Comras said he plans to redirect those consumers, who would otherwise go to Town Center at Boca Raton in Palm Beach County or Aventura Mall in Miami-Dade.