There might not be room here for national big-box retailers
By April M. Havens
National big-box retailers represent the current trend in commercial real estate, local experts say, but a space squeeze could keep Miami-Dade County from taking full advantage.
"The overall market I can describe in two words: very tight," said Paco Diaz, senior vice president of retail properties for CB Richard Ellis. "There is almost no space available, and we are looking at prices upward of $50 per square foot."
Commercial retailers, particularly big-box companies, seek build-to-suit properties, experts say. "New boxes coming into the market in most cases would be looking at new construction," Mr. Diaz said.
Mia Stierheim, director of retail sales at Colliers Abood Wood-Fay, agreed. "There is some repositioning of existing centers, but mostly we are seeing a lot of new development," she said. "Miami-Dade in general has small space for retail, though."
Big-box companies looking for space here include Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, JCPenney, 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness, according to Mr. Diaz.
"A lot of your larger apparel stores are also looking," Ms Stierheim said. Traditional big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Ross Dress For Less and TJ Maxx have interest in Miami-Dade County, Ms. Stierheim said.
While several commercial experts say Kohl's is interested in opening here, Courtney K. Rogaczewski, a spokeswoman for the clothing retailer, said the company is looking at properties but no deals have been made. "We have 15 Florida locations," she said. "But at this time, we've not announced any plans to open a new store in the Miami-Dade community."
Local experts also are watching Target. "There should be a few Targets popping around," said Giselle de Troyban, president of GlobalVest Realty Group.
Ms. Stierheim said she may have an announcement soon. "I'm working on one that I cannot really divulge at this point."
Home-improvement retailers remain strong, Ms. Stierheim said. "With rooftops, there are always home improvements," she said. "And of course, with The Home Depot's interest, Lowe's is looking to get in on that competitive edge."
Office-supply retailers also have been expanding rapidly and specialty grocers are looking to expand as well, according to Micky Hooks, commercial associate for Colliers Abood Wood-Fay. "There are rumors about a Midtown Wal-Mart," Mr. Hooks said.
Ms. de Troyban said she has seen a lot of restaurants and food-related businesses looking to expand during the past three months.
Experts say numerous areas in the county are underserved by retailers.
But retailers "have been really focusing on downtown Miami," Ms. Stierheim said.
Doral is seeing a lot of interest, Mr. Hooks said.
Overall, Ms. de Troyban said, "there is a lot of residential development going on that is going to require retail to support it."