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Commercial Real Estate
Business Observer Friday, Apr. 19, 2019 3 years ago

Playing to Strengths

Floridays Development Co. has found that partners on its hotel projects bring value and critical perspective.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

After three decades in the development business, Floridays Development Co. has in place all the capabilities and the team to handle every aspect of a real estate project.

And Founder and CEO Angus Rogers has tackled them all, on a variety of projects ranging from hospitality to senior housing to residential condominiums and apartments.

But when it comes to hotel and resort development, Floridays has gravitated to partnering up with other companies or individuals whose expertise meshes with the overall vision or needs of a particular project.

In downtown Sarasota, where the company is based, Floridays teamed with Hollywood hotelier Prime Hospitality Group and Shaner Hotels, of Pennsylvania, to develop and operate the 162-room Art Ovation hotel.

The Marriott Autograph Collection property, which features an arts theme, opened last year on a former city-owned site adjacent to a municipal parking garage. Rogers had been working on the project since 2012, when city leaders expressed a desire to develop the then-vacant site at 1255 N. Palm Ave.

On Anna Maria Sound, in Manatee County, Floridays is partnering with Margaritaville Holdings, Minto Communities and a capital partner on what will be the Jimmy Buffett-themed first Compass by Margaritaville.

That 130-room property, spanning five floors and on three acres, is scheduled to debut late this year.

“We just find the structure works for us,” Rogers says of his joint venture lodging deals. “Obviously it depends on the particular deal and the particular circumstances. Sometimes we focus on a capital partner, other times we may seek out operations expertise, depending on the skill set.

“We don’t necessarily need to partner up, we certainly have the in-house team to do everything we’d need, but often times we find there are benefits to partnering,” says Rogers, who graduated from college with an engineering degree and studied design in graduate school. “You bring your strengths to a project and your partner brings their strengths to the table.”

In many cases, partners allow Floridays to divide a project’s responsibilities along design, construction or operational lines.

“At the end of the day you have to feel that each side is bringing value in,” Rogers says. “We focus on development because that’s our strength. But in terms of construction and especially hotel operations, those folks earn every penny they make. We understand construction, and I have a bit of a construction background, but we don’t want to be, nor try to be, all things. It’s just not what we want to do.”

"You have to go in with the same mentality, that’s key. But you also have to be nimble enough to accept change at times. And as individuals, it’s all about how well you communicate — what the expectations of each party are, what the schedule of the deal, what the structure of the project is. Understanding everything up front is important.” — Angus Rogers, CEO, Floridays Development Co.

The bedrock of any partnership, Rogers believes, is establishing a plan at the outset of a project and communicating effectively — and frequently  — throughout.

“You have to go in with the same mentality, that’s key,” he says. “But you also have to be nimble enough to accept change at times. And as individuals, it’s all about how well you communicate — what the expectations of each party are, what the schedule of the deal, what the structure of the project is. Understanding everything up front is important.”

Active listening is a critical skill, too.

“To be a good partner you have to listen, to what the person across the table is saying, to sometimes a divergent point of view,” Rogers says. “You have to know, to the extent you can, the person you’re going to work with also. Certain personalities work better together, and on a real estate project, you’re going to be involved with someone for a considerable period of time, so you’re going to have to work to make it work.”

In many cases, Floridays’ partner provides necessary capital — though Rogers is careful about whom he goes into deals with on projects.

“We’ve built relationships over the years with high net worth individuals and family offices, though there, too, these people tend to be very real estate savvy because they’ve been in the business before, and we appreciate that because often they provide a perspective we didn’t consider.”

Floridays’ next joint venture will be working with Butson Hotels, a Vermont-based hotel operator and investor, on a pair of Home2Suites by Hilton hotels in Sarasota and Largo.

The five-story, 118-room Sarasota project, which will be built on a 6.5-acre tract on Mauna Loa Drive in the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce, is slated for delivery late this year.

COURTESY RENDERING — Floridays and partner Butson Hotels intend to develop at least two Home2Suites by Hilton hotels in Sarasota and Largo.

In Largo, the pair’s five-story hotel — with a similar number of keys — will be developed across from the Largo Mall at 10125 Ulmerton Road. It is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2020.

Rogers and Butson met as a result of an introduction by Michael Weinberg, a senior managing director with commercial real estate brokerage firm Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P.

HFF also arranged for $30 million in capital to help finance the pair of Home2Suites projects, which is an extended-stay, mid-tier Hilton Hotels Corp. brand designed for budget-conscious travelers.

“We’re New England based,” says Chuck Butson, Butson Hotels’ managing member. “We realize that different parts of the country are very different. So when we looked at opportunities in Florida, we knew right away that we needed a partner, because we don’t know the builders or the laws. We knew we didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

After doing some “homework” on Floridays, the two company’s senior officials met and talked, and developed a rapport in short order, Butson says.

“We developed a good comfort level pretty quickly, and I think we’re a pretty natural fit,” Butson adds.

Rogers cautions, though, that partnerships are “not for everybody.”

“I’ve run into people where it’s their money and they’re going to be in charge, end of story. And that’s fine,” he says. “Mostly, we’ve found that in partnering up, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. The good outweighs the bad, and overwhelmingly, our partners bring more to the table than they take.”

He admits, too, that ego — or a lack of it — can also play a significant role.

“I don’t know it all, and the older I get, the longer I’m in this business, the less I feel I know,” Rogers says. “But I like to think that I am humble enough to seek advice. I like the discipline and the relationships that form.

“I’ve had some fabulous relationships over the years, both in my company and outside of it, and the way I look at it, you spend so much time in your career, you need to like doing business with the people you’re involved with, and many times, they become your friends. Life’s too short to do otherwise.”

Rogers will rely on those partners and friends going forward, too: The developer has plans to build a new Holiday Inn & Suites in Orlando; a 300-unit apartment project in Dallas; and 100 single-family homes in Columbia, S.C., in the near future.





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