Terra Group's Martin Reveals the Secret Strategy to Creating Value

June 24, 2016   |   Daily Business Review

Terra Group does commercial real estate differently. The result: it has sold more than $2 billion worth of high-end residential, commercial, land and mixed-use projects. The question is, how is Terra thinking?

Founded by father and son Pedro and David Martin in 2001, terra has developed projects such as 900 Biscayne Bay, Quantum on the Bay and Nautica on the condo side, but the company is also working on retail projects that are turning heads in Doral, such as Doral Commons, a 150,000-square-foot development that’s under construction.

David Martin, president of Terra, shares what sets his firm apart, the origin of his “less is more” philosophy and more in this interview.

Terra calls itself a responsible developer. What does that mean and how does it set your firm apart?

It starts with the premise that real estate development is a privilege, not a right, that means creating environments that enhance people’s lives.

We begin by identifying places where we can have a positive impact when it comes to design, the local economy, the urban fabric and nature. Some developers build in a vacuum and impart their vision on a neighborhood that already exists.

But at terra, we are always looking for opportunities to listen to our neighbors, collaborate with like-minded partners, and enhance the areas where we develop. We’ve taken this approach in communities across South Florida -from Coconut Grove and Miami Beach, to Doral and Weston- and we’re proving the model can work.

What is the origin of your ‘less is more’ philosophy and what are some examples of your low-density development approach?

Many people assume that bigger developments are better when it comes to maximizing value, but we find that less is sometimes more in residential real estate. We can often create more value for residents and a surrounding community over the long term by delivering a project in scale with an existing neighborhood, even if it means reducing density.

You can find examples of this across portfolio. At Glass in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth Neighborhood, which will be the first new residential building to deliver in Miami Beach this cycle, we initially planned to 45 units but downscaled to 10 units. At Grove at Grand Bay in Coconut Grove, we’re building 98 units on a site zoned for up to 440 units.

In your experience, what role can architecture play in creating value for a community and for residents of a development?

Sophisticated design and planning can transform entire neighborhoods, and we’re seeing this trend unfold in South Florida and around the world, and in every instance we are planning projects and creating designs that complement our surroundings.

For Example, Renzo Piano is creating a master plan for our 8701 Collins project in North Beach which adds new public green space and expanded beach access for the neighborhood. Bjarke Ingels’ design for Grove at grand Bay is inspired by the outdoors and the relationship between interior and exterior spaces. This approach applies to our suburban work as well. At Botaniko in Weston, local architects Chad Oppenheim and Roney Mateu have designed single-family homes within a low-density, mater-planned format.

Pembroke Pines Growth Attracts Retail Buyer

July 24, 2017   |   Daily Business Review

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by: Carla Vianna

The primary reason Current Capital Real Estate Group was attracted to a '90s-era Pembroke Pines shopping center and its 150,000 square feet of retail was its location.

The University Marketplace plaza — a gem for investors looking to join a flurry of real estate activityin the Broward County suburb — sits on the corner of two busy thoroughfares at University Drive and Pines Boulevard.

It's been home to the Cafe Iguana Pines nightclub for nearly two decades and is nearly 100 percent occupied.

Current Capital, a boutique real estate investment firm based in Hollywood, represented New York's Bellino Equities in the $21.25 million purchase of the center this week. The Florida group secured an ownership stake in the property, said Todd Nepola, president and founder of Current Capital.

"The real reason we bought this is because we obviously love the location," he said. "The development in that area is extraordinary."

The plaza at 100 S. University Drive is west of Florida's Turnpike and Interstate 95 and about two miles east of a major mixed-use development known as City Center now under construction.

Nepola's deal extends a trend of commercial real estate investors inking big-dollar deals in Pembroke Pines. He credits the city's maturation in recent years, specifically for new development.

"People started to recognize the growth going on there," he said. "It was unrecognizable a few years ago."

Nepola said he'll buy another property if he finds one.

Two of the largest commercial real estate deals in South Florida this year took place in Pembroke Pines, a suburb with the second-highest population in Broward.

The county's largest retail real estate transaction in almost a year closed in February: Two adjacent shopping centers, known as the Westfork Plaza and Paraiso Parc, were acquired by an Illinois-based real estate investment trust for $163 million. The centers were in the midst of a 53,000-square-foot expansion project, most of which has been pre-leased.

A 700-unit apartment complex, then known as the The Montage at City Center, traded in a $159 million deal a few months later. Another rental community, the Town at Pembroke Pines, was purchased for $87 million by a real estate group based in Boston.

Back to the 'Burbs

Miami developer David Martin was drawn to the city by its growing population and mature residential market.

His Terra Group is transforming 47 acres into the mixed-use City Center complex to include nearly 400 apartments, hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space and a hospitality component.

His development is one of the main drivers for investor appetite in the area, in Nepola's eyes.

The first phase of Terra's project includes 200,000 square feet of retail, including a Seasons 52 wine bar and grill and Publix Super Market.

The second part of the three-phase development set to start at the end of the year will add 100,000 square feet of retail and 380 apartments, Martin said.

"What's interesting about Pembroke Pines is you're able to cater to a lot of different demographics," he said. "We want to have a diverse and broad spectrum of demand. Pembroke Pines has a millennial crowd, a young family crowd and it also has an older family crowd."

The city's renter population is projected to grow — good news for someone building hundreds of apartments. Suburban areas actually outpaced urban areas in rental household gains in 19 of 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas from 2011 to 2015, according to a RentCafe study.

Both the Miami and Tampa regions gained more renters in suburban neighborhoods than in urban areas during the five-year period, the study shows. Data for Broward was not available.

Martin noted the city is also home to a growing base of large corporate tenants. His project will meet a surge in demand from both residents and employees for nearby retail and entertainment offerings in an urban-like center with a suburban setting.

The municipality itself is adding more fuel to the fire. Pembroke Pines is building a $60 million civic center featuring a performing arts center and conference hall, an outdoor plaza, art gallery and new City Hall near Martin's complex.

Daily Business Review - Best of 2018

November 19, 2018   |   Daily Business Review

Congratulations to Terra - Winner of the 2018 Multi-Family Developer Award!

Pembroke Pines Retail Secures $45 Million Refi Despite Coronavirus Slowdown

April 7, 2020   |   Daily Business Review

Developer Terra already sold the first half of the retail segment and pre-leased 98% of the second half.

By Lidia Dinkova

A sprawling mixed-use Pembroke Pines project secured a $45 million refinancing for its retail segment in spite of the coronavirus economic curveball that has slowed lending.

 The 47-acre Pines City Center on the southwest corner of Pines Boulevard and Palm Avenue obtained the loan for the second half of its retail portion — 150,000 square feet out of a total of 300,000 square feet of retail.

Miami-based developer Terra, by the father-and-son team of Pedro and David Martin, closed on the loan from Miami’s FirstBank Florida on March 16 as many South Florida businesses were switching to work-from-home operations.

 The second half of the retail portion is nearly complete and set to open by year-end. The space is 98% leased.

The new loan valued at $300 per square foot becomes permanent financing for a stabilized property that refinanced two earlier loans during construction.

 The latest refinancing was completed as retail was being hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with South Florida mandating closures of all businesses except grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses. Restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery. Lending has slowed as the lenders hold back and developers hold off on new projects amid the economic uncertainty.

 Refinancing loans are continuing based on historically low interest rates. The Federal Reserve twice cut interest rates late last year before the pandemic and then cut them to near zero amid the coronavirus.

 “Every part of the world is experiencing economic uncertainty right now, so the federal government has taken steps to sustain business activity by reducing interest rates close to all-time low levels,” said David Martin, Terra president. “Real estate companies whose assets have appreciated in value now have an opportunity to refinance loans.”

 Refinancing deals will pump life into and sustain capital markets during the intense economic slowdown.

 “While lending criteria has tightened, we’re seeing lenders continue to transact deals that benefit from strong income in place and well-capitalized sponsors,” Martin added.

The second half of the Pines City Center retail portion is to be anchored by Hobby Lobby and UFC Gym. Some of the other secured tenants are Space Coast Credit Union, CoreLife Eatery, Paradise Grills, AT&T, Chuy’s Tex Mex, McAlister’s Deli, Pinkberry, Colada Cuban Café, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, Style and Polish Blow Dry Bar, Legacy Fit, and Hiccups and Churroholic.

Terra already completed the first phase of retail, which is anchored by Publix. Real estate investor TA Realty, based in Boston, bought the initial segment from Terra for $80 million in December 2018.

Terra secured the recent refinancing through an affiliate, Terra City Center Investments II LLC.

“Our ability to close this significant loan reflects the retail demand we’ve experienced at Pines City Center as well as the strong relationship between Terra and FirstBank of Florida,” Martin said. “Our team created a master plan comprising of lifestyle-centered retail that is serving the everyday needs of surrounding residents.” 

The rest of Pines City Center, which sprawls from Pines Boulevard south to Washington Street and from Palm Avenue west toward Hiatus Road, includes three completed multifamily communities.

The 387-unit Pines Garden garden-style complex with apartments and townhouses is the most recently completed community. It’s at 10400 SW City Center Blvd.

The other two are the 700-unit City Center on 7th on 27 acres and the 365-unit Town Pembroke Pines  on 11 acres. All apartments are market-rate units. 

Terra also envisioned hotels as part of the project. 

Currently all Pines City Center stores except essential businesses such as the Publix are closed and will follow government guidelines on when they can reopen.

Pembroke Pines is a growing city with more than 170,700 residents. Next door to Pines City Center is the city’s new $60 million Charles F. Dodge City Center and Convention Hall with a 3,500-seat auditorium. It also has an art gallery and outdoor plaza.

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