Leading industry researcher CoStar Group Inc. compiles lists of the top commercial real estate firms and agents in more than 90 U.S. markets based on transactional volume and leasing activity.
The Washington D.C.-based company's most recent annual Power Brokers data, from internal data and submitted material, provides a snapshot of top sales and leasing firms, office, retail and industrial leasing brokers and sales brokers. Overall leasing volume for individuals is based on an aggregation of the square footages of all the lease transactions, according to CoStar.
For 2015, in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market, 20 companies and 40 individuals received awards, while in the Southwest Florida market, 21 companies and 44 individuals were recognized. Here are the winners from Tampa/St. Petersburg:
Cushman & Wakefield
The firm dominated CoStar's awards in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, with more individuals recognized than any other commercial brokerage. The company's Tampa office, which completed 959 transactions for $17 billion in deal volume and $40 million in revenue in 2015, was also listed as both a top leasing and sales firm.
Larry Richey, Cushman & Wakefield's market leader in Florida, says the company's results in 2015 were aided by its merger with former rival DTZ Inc.
“Cushman & Wakefield is fortunate to have a stable of experienced and productive agents in Tampa, and we added to that an unbelievably successful operation in DTZ,” Richey says.
Ten agents — Todd Brandon, Paula Buffa, Ryan Reynolds, Alex Beacham, Grant Goodwiller, Scott Peek, Julia Silva Rettig, Josh Tarkow, Rick Brugge and Mike Davis — were recognized.
The firm dominated CoStar's industrial leasing category, with six of 10 slots, and notched three slots for office leasing and two in the Top Sales Brokers category.
Brandon, a Cushman executive managing director ranked for both office and industrial leasing, was the only agent in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market to be recognized in two categories.
The company represented Syniverse Technologies in its headquarters' renewal in the Highwoods Preserve, a 200,000-square-foot deal; and Hidden River Corporate Park in its deal for Johnson & Johnson's shared services headquarters' relocation, totaling 111,000 square feet.
Cushman agents also sold the Fleeman Family Trust's portfolio of properties, which totaled 34 industrial buildings with nearly 1.7 million square feet for $103 million, and represented the Lazydays RV Resort in the sale and subsequent lease back of its 126-acre RV park off Interstate 4, in Tampa.
Franklin Street Real Estate Services
Franklin Street scored with three agents on the Power Brokers list, Chad Rupp for office leasing and Brian Bern and Ryan Derriman for retail leasing. The company, founded in 2006, also was ranked among the top sales and leasing firms. In 2015, Franklin Street completed $150 million in lease deals — including 87 retail transactions — and sold more than $300 million worth of commercial property on its way to generating more than $20 million in revenue.
Bern says market forces and timing boosted Franklin Street last year, especially on retail deals.
“Retailer demand that began in 2014 continued in 2015,” Bern says. “Landlords were reasonable in making deals with tenants, and there seemed to be a confluence of factors that contributed to success: There was confidence, demand for growth and an urgency among tenants and landlords alike to grab opportunities as they were presented.”
Bern's top deal in 2015 was with teen retailer Five Below, which went into a redeveloped former garden center space in the Cortez Plaza East, in Bradenton, while Derriman worked to revamp the 100,000-square-foot Ovation retail center in Davenport and reverse a vacancy rate of 55%. Today, the center is fully leased. Rupp, meanwhile, had his top deal with Vology, in Clearwater. The company took down 59,514 square feet in the Bay Vista Office Park for its corporate headquarters.
Seidel founded American Property Group of Sarasota Inc. in 1986, to specialize in retail and restaurant properties. It has since expanded to the office and hotel sectors. Seidel, a former restaurant owner and operator in Philadelphia, today works alongside his wife and two sons. In all, his firm has 12 employees.
A CoStar Power Broker each year since 2012, Seidel attributes his place on the company's retail leasing list for 2015 to high volume.
“After 30 years, I know the market pretty well,” he says. “I've been one of the more visible brokers in Sarasota for a long time, so there's a trust factor there, and I know how to get really difficult deals done. I'm creative.”
Colliers International Tampa Bay
Colliers International's regional operation had six Power Brokers in all for 2015, in addition to being listed among the region's top sales and leasing operations.
The firm snagged 40% of the slots in CoStar's Retail Leasing Brokers category, with Jim Kovacs, Lisa McCaffrey, Benjamin McLeish and Tyler Peterson taking honors.
Bruce Vaughan was recognized as a Top Industrial Leasing Broker, and Travis Prince was named to the list of Top Sales Brokers.
“The situation last year was unique in that we hadn't had available capital in such abundance at a time when a number of growth factors were kicking in,” says Vaughan, Colliers' managing director for industrial services in Tampa. “The housing market rebound led to the manufacturing sector returning in a really big way, which in turn fueled other areas.”
Among Vaughan's most significant deals of 2015 was a 200,000-square-foot distribution center deal with electronics retailer Best Buy Co., in Davenport.
Seven JLL agents from the company's Tampa office were recognized for their work in 2015, and the 19-broker firm also was listed among the top leasing firms in the market.
The firm's Deana Beer, Sharon Bragg, Caleb Lewis, James Moler and Bryan Rodriguez snagged five of 10 spots in the office leasing category, and Bob Alter and John Dunphy were awarded top industrial leasing honors.
Beer completed 25 deals totaling 157,664 square feet in 2015, including representing, with Bragg, the owner of the Beaumont Business Center in a headquarters deal with DDS Lab.
Bragg, meanwhile, logged 19 deals for 240,515 square feet, including a six-figure lease with Citigroup at 8800 Hidden River Parkway.
Alter, who works as part of a four-person team, completed more than 50 deals totaling 1.56 million square feet, with Coca-Cola Refreshments, Stryker Sustainability Solutions and Tesinc LLC, among others.
“There was significant pent-up demand last year,” Alter says. “Combined with some delays in company decisions and little increase in inventory, the Tampa market really seemed to hit a stride.”
Moler did 40 deals totaling 427,188 square feet, and 50% were new transactions, not renewals. Dunphy completed 58 deals for a transactional volume of $72 million, with Coca-Cola Refreshments, Raytheon and Xcelience, among others.
For their part, Lewis executed 27 deals totaling 220,000 square feet, while Rodriguez's 44 deals totaling 488,452 square feet.
The CBRE Inc. senior vice president went on a tear in 2015, selling seven major assets totaling nearly 3 million square feet for a collective $457.2 million.
Peterson, a commercial real estate veteran of more than 25 years and a member of the brokerage firm's Tampa investment properties group, also logged the region's largest single-asset sale of the year and the largest office transaction in Florida since 2012 — a $193.5 million deal involving the 42-story Bank of America Plaza on behalf of owner MetLife Real Estate Investments.
The former Trammell Crow Co. executive also was involved in the sales of the iconic Rivergate Tower in downtown Tampa; the Highland Oaks office park; and the 681,770-square-foot Harney Road Distribution Center, in Tampa.
“We're in a good spot in the cycle,” Peterson told the Business Observer last month, noting that property trades are happening for below replacement costs, in an environment of low interest rates and rising rents.
Peterson's firm was also recognized as a top leasing and sales brokerage, and colleague John Selby was listed as a Power Broker for top sales, along with Peterson. Selby and partner Sean Williams sold a dozen multifamily properties with roughly 4,000 units last year for more than $322 million.