As Opa-locka commerce center fills, a hotel might be next
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
With four more leases inked, AVE Aviation & Commerce Center in northwest Miami-Dade has hit 94% occupancy and plans ahead for its next development phase.
Project developer Ernesto Cambo, principal of CPF Investment Group, said he is in talks with a hotel developer-operator to sublease space for construction of a small hotel of about 100 to 120 rooms. A bank branch is also in the horizon for the business park.
For now, AVE continues its streak of deals, with optical products supplier BK Frames, work uniforms manufacturer Cintas, RaceTrac gas station and sandwich shop Subway joining its tenant roster.
AVE Aviation & Commerce Center, facing Red Road and bordering Opa-locka Executive Airport, is a 2.5-million-square-foot master planned warehouse, aircraft and retail facilities that is the result of a long-term lease from Miami-Dade County's Aviation Department.
The business park, on 178 acres, signed 207,000 square feet of leases valued at more than $50 million last year.
BK Frames, a provider of optical products in the US and Latin America, and Cintas, which designs and manufactures corporate uniforms, are to each occupy 6,300 square feet of warehouse space in AVE's Building N, a 151,000-square-foot industrial building. The value of those leases is a combined $500,000.
Cintas, which services about 800,000 businesses, is to operate a new distribution center at the leased location, adding to its more than 420 US facilities.
For this tenant, the park's central location and the additional truck positions it could offer were key to iron out this deal, Mr. Cambo said.
"We really caught them at the right time," he added.
RaceTrac inked a 20-year ground lease for 73,000 square feet to build a 24-pump gas station with a 6,000-square-foot convenience store.
This deal, Mr. Cambo said, took about a year to negotiate.
The gas station's parcel is next to a planned $5 million service-oriented retail strip within the park to face Northwest 57th Avenue, or Red Road, to house Subway and other tenants to be signed, including a bank and Cuban food restaurant.
The RaceTrac and Subway transactions have a combined value of $2.5 million.
AVE added three key tenants last year.
Tire giant Goodyear inked a five-year lease for a 24,000-square-foot distribution warehouse, perfume wholesaler Suntrade Imports leased 12,700 square feet of warehouse and distribution space for three years and Fort Lauderdale-based Banyan Air Service inked a 20-year lease for a 135,000-square-foot facility to be built.
Other tenants are the US Postal Service in a 500,000-square-foot mail-sorting facility and Ace Transportation/New Generation, a freight consolidator and logistics company, which took 30,000 square feet of warehouse and office for five years.
When deciding to lease at AVE, tenants considered the business park's proximity to highway systems, said Ernesto Casal, principal and broker of Capital Commercial Group, who along with the firm's Luis Marquez and Jeff Harstook handle leasing.
The property is blocks north of the Gratigny Parkway and just south of the Palmetto Expressway. Other appealing features are on-site security, rear-dock loading, and 24-foot interior ceilings.
With 94% of the existing park filled, Mr. Casal said about 12,000 square feet remain available.
Despite tough times in the commercial market, he said AVE has achieved above-market rates in some of its leases.
"We achieved rates, in some instances, $4 to $5 above other buildings in the area," he noted.
With more tenants coming into the property, Mr. Cambo, the developer, anticipates its population growing into the thousands, making the need for retail and other services more imminent.
"With more tenants moving in, including Banyan," he said, "they need places to provide financial services and to grab food and put gas."
Mr. Cambo said he's also working on refinancing the project's debt to continue AVE's development schedule, attracting more tenants and building more buildings.
When AVE began rising, the commercial market was suffering, Mr. Casal said, with high vacancies and existing tenants returning space to landlords.
"But we felt the project was well-positioned for that market because of the lack of product there," he added. "There was no new class A product built in this area in about 20 years that could compare to this kind of product, so the timing was right."
AVE's commerce park has committed almost 90 acres out of 178 acres the county allocated in the land lease, Mr. Casal said. Completion of the entire business park is estimated for 2015.
"We feel the project has succeeded," he said. "We feel only tremendous upside going forward."
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