Rarely does a real estate networking event involve a police escort, karaoke sing-a-longs and pit stops at Hooters.
But all were part of Thursday’s bus tour, where about 150 retail professionals — from brokers to developers to attorneys — piled on three buses and visited nearly 40 prominent shopping centers in Miami-Dade County. Founded by veteran brokers Gary Broidis and Larry Brooks, the tours are intended to facilitate dealmaking and relationship-building in a less daunting environment than conventional industry gatherings.
Each bus has a moderator, who introduces the properties and keeps the mood light throughout the daylong jaunt. At each center, a leasing representative discusses the space that is available, asking rental rates and the type of tenants the owner is seeking.
With so many heavy hitters aboard — Thursday’s tour included Evelyn Greer, president of Greer Properties; North Miami Beach mayor Myron Rosner; and retail developer and broker Michael Comras — the event is “great for new people in the business to introduce themselves and see 30 percent of the shopping centers over 100,000 square feet in the county,” said Broidis, founder of Atlantic Commercial Group in Boca Raton.
While the overall mood is light — with riders telling jokes and belting out tunes by The Who and Creedence Clearwater Revival — attendees make serious headway on transactions.
In the debut tour in Broward County last October, one of the nation’s biggest restaurant franchisers, Subway, had discussions that led to store openings in Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to Aaron Fox, director of real estate for the company’s Southeast Florida operations.
“It’s great to network with fellow peers,” Fox said. “It would take months to get all this information” otherwise.
An inaugural Palm Beach County tour is set for July 28. Broidis and Brooks plan to hold annual tours in the three South Florida counties and expand to other Florida cities.