Condo-Like Lifestyle in the Suburbs – Q&A with Terra's David Martin

December 7, 2015   |   Commercial Property Executive

Doral Commons is scheduled to open near the end of this year but it’s safe to say that the 140,000 square-foot retail plaza is off to a good start.

Doral Commons appears to be well on its way to open near the end of this year. As previously reported, Terra is putting the finishing touches on the 140,000 square-foot retail plaza. It turned out that The Courtelis Co., which is in charge of leasing, has been quite busy too. The property has not only caught the attention of retailers, but it is already 90 percent leased to tenants such as Publix, Citibank, GNC, AT&T Wireless, McDonald’s and TJ Maxx.

We asked Terra President David Martin about the project and how it integrates into the new bloodflow in Doral. Luckily, he had managed to snag a few minutes from his busy schedule.

Q: Could you tell us more details about Doral Commons?

A: Doral Commons is Terra’s newest mixed-use project in Doral, pairing 140,000 square feet of retail anchored by a Publix with 319 single-family homes. Nearby, Terra is also building two residential developments that are now under construction – Modern Doral, a three-subdivision community encompassing a total of 319 single-family contemporary-style homes; and Neovita, a 32-acre luxury townhouse/single-family home community. Terra’s other residential projects in Doral include Doral Cay, Las Ramblas, Vintage Estates and Reserve at Doral – all of which were recently completed.

Q: What was the key to Doral Commons’ success?

A: At Terra, we are always conscious of where and how we develop. We pick our spots carefully and deliver projects that are appropriate for the community and market dynamics. Doral Commons’ contemporary design is changing the landscape in the area, attracting remarkable brands and quickly becoming the neighborhood’s hub.

Q: Terra is most widely known for its residential projects. What turned the company’s interest toward the commercial sector?

A: Terra creates and enhances communities across South Florida through residential and commercial development, both in urban areas and in the suburbs – our diverse $3 billion development portfolio includes luxury high-rises, single family homes, townhouses, retail shopping centers, office space and multifamily apartments.

We focus on finding voids in the market, both in terms of identifying underserved neighborhoods and underdeveloped property types. For example, single family home buyers are looking for more space and want to be close to good schools, libraries, parks, golf-courses etc., synonymous with a suburban lifestyle. What we do differently is we bring luxury amenities more traditionally associated with condo living to the suburbs creating value and developing a growing community. This approach is helping to reshape areas like Doral – as well as Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Pembroke Pines and Weston.

Q: What does this high development activity in Doral indicate, and how does it affect Miami and the rest of the South Florida real estate market?

A: There is a growing demand for more space at a lower price particularly amongst single family home buyers looking to be closer to high-quality schools, libraries, parks and other amenities that you find in places like Doral and Weston. By developing and reshaping neighborhoods like Coconut Grove, Doral and Weston, we are contributing to the area’s revitalization.

Q: Are there any other commercial projects in the company’s pipeline?

A: Terra is working on Pembroke Pines City Center, a master-planned mixed-use community within the City of Pembroke Pines. More details on the project will become public over the coming months.

Coconut Grove Mixed-Use Lands Anchor Tenant

September 28, 2018   |   Commercial Property Executive

Kaufman Rossin agreed to lease nearly 65,000 square feet of office space at Mary Street, an adaptive reuse project under construction in Miami’s oldest neighborhood.

By Timea Papp

Mayfair Real Estate Advisors and Terra Group have secured an anchor tenant at Mary Street, a mixed-use development taking shape in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. Advisory firm Kaufman Rossin agreed to occupy 64,666 square feet at the Class A project. Developers are transforming a former parking garage, with delivery slated for mid-2019.

Kaufman Rossin will lease the building’s top two floors and half of the third floor starting June 2020. The firm is currently headquartered at 2699 S. Bayshore Drive, just two blocks away from Mary Street. The lease represents a 10,000-square-foot expansion, with the tenant relocating nearly 300 employees to the new location.

Co-developer Terra will also lease 13,174 square feet at the Touzet Studio-designed property, bringing Mary Street’s office component to full occupancy. Terra’s new corporate space will be on the building’s third floor and mezzanine level. Located at 3310 Mary St., the 78,000-square-foot project will feature five floors of Class A office space, ground-floor retail space and a publicly accessible, 340-space parking garage.


Upon delivery, Mary Street will mark the first completion of Class A office space in Coconut Grove’s business district in more than two decades. According to a JLL report, vacancy in Coconut Grove is 1.7 percent, the lowest rate in Miami Dade County’s submarkets. Amenities at Mary Street will include 24-hour security, covered drop-off and valet areas, electric car charging stations, bicycle stations and storage. Jaguar Therapeutic, OXXO Cleaners, Elia restaurant, Workout Spot and a private dentistry practice are among the signed retail tenants.

Tom Capocefalo, senior managing director with Savills Studley, represented Kaufman Rossin, while Chris Dekker, vice president with Mayfair Real Estate Advisors, worked on behalf of the development team.

“The move to this expanded, innovative space represents new beginnings for Kaufman Rossin while keeping us true to our roots in Coconut Grove,” said Blain Heckaman, chief executive officer of Kaufman Rossin, in prepared remarks. “Our team launched Mary Street to complete the vision of a true live-work-play environment in Coconut Grove,” added David Martin, president & co-founder of Terra.

Terra Sells $72M Miami-Area Retail Center

January 16, 2018   |   Commercial Property Executive

By Barbra Murray

Doral Commons, which was 95 percent leased at the time of sale, fetched $514 per square foot two years after being completed.

Two years after completing development of Doral Commons in Doral, Fla., Terra Group has traded the 140,000-square-foot retail center for approximately $72 million, or roughly $514 per square foot. With the assistance of commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, the integrated real estate development and investment firm sold the grocery-anchored property to Jamestown LP.

Located 15 miles west of Miami, at the intersection of NW 74th St. and 107th Ave., the Doral Commons shopping center made its debut in early 2016 and originally served as the retail portion of Terra’s mixed-use Doral Commons project, which has been credited with redefining Doral’s new architecture. The retail and residential segments were later separated.
The retail plaza was 95 percent leased at the time of sale to a host of national and local tenants, including Publix, which anchors the property with a 49,000-square-foot space leased through 2040. With the asset stabilized, Terra was ready to sell—and Jamestown seized the opportunity.
“This is a case of Terra taking a forward-looking approach to acquiring a site, recognizing a void in the market, and creating value through execution and leasing,” Mark Gilbert, executive managing director with Cushman & Wakefield, said in a prepared statement. “The Doral Commons sale coincides with a surge of retail leasing activity in Doral which is creating heightened demand among sophisticated investors such as Jamestown.”
Miami-Dade’s retail sector is an investor favorite, and for good reason. The overall vacancy rate in the area is in the 4-percent range, and it’s even lower in Doral, which boasts a 2 percent vacancy rate, according to research by C&W. Rental rates continue to inch upward as well. 
Miami-Dade transactions involving grocery-anchored shopping centers in the last quarter of 2017 alone include a private investor’s purchase of the 106,400-square-foot Old Cutler Towne Center in Cutler Bay for $31.8 million, and another unidentified buyer’s $37.5 million acquisition of Village of Oriole Plaza, a 155,000-square-foot property in Delray Beach. And Jamestown, clearly keen on the market, acquired the 100,000-square-foot Country Club Plaza in Miami Gardens for $34.3 million. Investor interest is not expected to wane in the near future.

“The demand for investors looking to buy retail assets is also expected to increase over the next couple of years due to Miami’s status as a global destination which has helped it through rough patches in the U.S. cycles in the past,” per the C&W report. “Cushman & Wakefield anticipates retail conditions to remain in positive territory despite a maturing market, due to Miami’s robust tourism, steady population growth and new construction.”

Doral’s Rise Among South Florida’s Suburban Frontiers

February 2, 2018   |   Commercial Property Executive

By Timea Papp

Terra Group President & Co-Founder David Martin talked to CPE about what makes Doral one of the most dynamic markets in South Florida as well as the company’s numerous developments in the area.

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the Southeast, Doral has more than doubled its population in the past 15 years and has been attracting institutional investors at an increasing rate. The city’s location, desirable lifestyle and improving infrastructure are some of the aspects fueling the rising demand for retail, office and industrial space.

David Martin, president & co-founder of Terra Group, spoke to Commercial Property Executive about the elements that contribute to the city’s real estate boom as well as how the development firm plays an important part in the process.

What are some of the factors driving investment and new development in Doral, one of South Florida’s suburban frontiers?

Martin: Affordability, proximity to work and the ability to quickly reach prime shopping and entertainment centers is a major draw. People are living in smaller spaces due to affordability, they’re not really interested in spending hours in traffic getting to work and there’s a much stronger need for these outdoor experiences. Rising demand for retail, office and industrial real estate in Doral is being fueled by a growing residential population, increasing income levels, the city’s desirable lifestyle and improving infrastructure and transit options.

What does the future hold for Doral regarding residential and commercial growth?

Martin: Doral’s rise as a thriving live-work-play community has made it one of the most dynamic markets in South Florida for all property types in the eyes of core real estate investors. The fact that Doral is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Southeast is special, but it’s the quality of residential and employment growth that makes it a must-own market for institutional investors. With a population that has more than doubled in the past 15 years, Doral is drawing young professionals and families seeking to take advantage of the city’s robust base of businesses and corporations, high-quality schools, cultural amenities and access to Miami-Dade’s major thoroughfares and Miami International Airport.

Can you tell us about the differences between urban and suburban development (what are some of the challenges, advantages/disadvantages)?

Martin: If we had plenty of land, everyone would do single-family homes because there are better margins and they are easier to execute, but South Florida is running out of land, so developers are—in effect—forced to turn to high-rise urban projects. Moreover, the maintenance and operating expenses of high-rise construction buildings are much higher than for a single-family community that just has a clubhouse, for instance.

Despite the historically small-town feel of the suburbs, there’s definitely a trend among South Florida developers for building urban-type centers out west. When you look at a lot of cities and their suburbs, you realize that places like Doral are accessible to so many neighborhoods and experiences.

What is the key to a strong Miami market?

Martin: We’ve been very focused on diversifying our portfolio beyond condos over the last few years while maintaining our philosophy of contributing favorably to neighborhoods and developing in markets where there’s a high barrier to entry.

Terra is involved in a diverse set of project types and communities across South Florida. What can you tell us about Doral Commons and Pembroke Pines City Center?

Martin: We are always conscious of where and how we develop. We pick our spots carefully and deliver projects that are appropriate for the community and market dynamics. We are currently developing in excess of $4 billion products, ranging from retail centers, office buildings, master planned communities, apartment buildings and luxury high-rise condominiums. 

One thing we’re doing differently is that we try to bring lifestyle amenities to the suburbs that are more traditionally associated with urban living. This approach is helping to reshape areas like Doral and Pembroke Pines. For example, our Doral Commons project combines 140,000 square feet of retail anchored by Publix and T.J. Maxx, situated directly adjacent to our Modern Doral development, a three-subdivision community encompassing a total of 319 contemporary-style, single-family homes. In Pembroke Pines, our 47-acre Pines City Center development combines lifestyle-oriented retail, restaurants and entertainment offerings, with in-demand multifamily apartments.

On the luxury condo side, who are some of the big architects Terra has worked with recently?

Martin: Renzo Piano is creating a master plan for our Eighty Seven Park condominium in Miami Beach’s North Beach enclave, which adds new public green space and expanded beach access for the neighborhood. At our newly-completed Grove at Grand Bay project in Coconut Grove, Bjarke Ingels’ design was inspired by the outdoors and the relationship between interior and exterior spaces. This approach applies to our suburban work as well. At our Botaniko community in Weston, local architects Chad Oppenheim and Roney Mateu have designed single-family estate homes within a low-density, master-planned format.