Now that I have transitioned to commercial real estate brokerage full time, I’m here to tell (and sell) you on the next great Miami neighborhood to invest in. Miami’s Little River neighborhood has been an up and coming neighborhood in the last several years and this trend is likely to accelerate. My family and I have lived in the area for the past 11 years and we have enjoyed watching the transformation of the surrounding neighborhoods. Notable developers that have invested early in Little River include Vagabond Group (Avra Jain), Urban Atlantic Group (Nick Hamman), MVW Partners (Matthew Vander Werff), and Conway Commercial Real Estate (Thomas Conway).
Miami’s Little River neighborhood is loosely bordered by the Florida East Coast rail road tracks to the east, I-95 to the west, 79th Street to the north, and 62nd Street to the south. The neighborhood takes its name from the Little River that runs along its northern edge. Under Miami 21, Little River has been bestowed with favorable zoning that allows for dense and mixed-use developments to be built, such as T6-8-0, D1, D2, and T-5-O zoning designations.
On the northern edge of the neighborhood lies 79th Street, which has a mixed-use T6-8-O zoning designation that allows for development of up to 8 floors and 150 dwelling units per acre by-right. Most of the buildings around 79th Street tend to be 1 or 2 stories, so almost all of the properties are not being utilized to their highest and best use. With an average daily traffic count of 26,000 vehicles per day, 79th Street is a major commercial street. It’s one of only a few roads that connects the western part of the county to Miami Beach.
Miami’s Little River neighborhood is well located about 6-miles north of downtown Miami. The neighborhood has excellent access to Miami Beach and I-95. The neighborhood sits on higher ground so most of it isn’t in a flood zone. Surrounding demographics are favorable. To the north and east lie the affluent communities of El Portal, Miami Shores, Belle Meade, Bayside, and Morningside.
Brightline recently announced that they will likely build a train station between NE 82nd Street and NE 79th Street. Once 79th Street Brightline station becomes a reality, we will likely see developers flocking to the neighborhood. Developers are already looking at the area in anticipation of the Brightline station, so expect activity along 79th Street to pick up even more once the Brightline station is formally announced.
If you’re looking to park a few dollars in a neighborhood with upside potential, look no further. Little River is a neighborhood investors should take note of. The location, surrounding demographics, and favorable zoning (within an opportunity zone as well) shouldn’t be overlooked. If you have a bit of patience and are playing the long game, bet the ranch on Miami’s Little River neighborhood.
Little River Family Favorites – La Santa Taqueria (Ebb & Flow) – Tran An (Ebb & Flow) – Plantisserie – Cindy Lou’s Cookies – B & M Market – Sherwoods Bistro – US Burger Service (The Citadel) – The Shores Fish Market (The Citadel) – Focused Movement Academy (great family gym) – Leon’s Garage (best and most honest mechanic in Miami)
Grant Killingsworth joined CBRE in January 2015 as First Vice President in the Occupier Services Group in South Florida, where he specializes in representing office tenants in the South Florida market. He brings over 20 years of commercial real estate experience to the industry, with an extensive background working for prestigious landlord and corporate clients.
Prior to his role with CBRE, Mr. Killingsworth spent nearly a decade with Jones Lang LaSalle as part of a team exclusively responsible for marketing and leasing over three million square feet of office space in South Florida, most notably Espirito Santo Plaza, where Grant and I first met in 2003, and 1221 Brickell in Miami’s Central Business District.
Miami is a small town when it comes to real estate and Grant and I have regularly crossed paths over the years. Grant is a solid guy and every time we run into each other we seem to have something interesting to talk about. Grant and I are also of the same mindset and we both believe in the value of building long-term relationships. Grant has uncompromising standards and integrity. He’s one of the good guys in commercial real estate in the 305.
It’s not surprising that over the course of his career, Mr. Killinsgsworth has represented a wide range of local, regional and multinational corporations, nonprofits, and educational institutions.
Mr. Killingsworth has a deep understanding of the lease underwriting process, which has since allowed him to implement unique and creative strategies to drive meaningful cost savings for his tenant clients. He also has significant experience in the office development process, from the design and financial underwriting phase through construction and ultimately lease up. If you’re looking for office space in South Florida, Grant should be the first person you call.
The Office Jedi
A Conversation With Mr. Killingsworth
Stoic Urbanist: What is a regular day for you? Do you have a morning routine?
Mr. Killingsworth: My morning routine has changed since COVID and now I usually get up between 5 and 6 am. I’ll read for 30 minutes and then meditate for a few minutes. I’ll make some coffee and then plow through emails and get myself organized for the day. I like to work out in the morning and am usually at the gym lifting or training at Soul Boxing by 6:45 am. Believe it or not, I’m a former amateur boxer and won the Miami Real Estate Broker Boxing Competition in 2008! I also enjoy a yoga class every once in a while, and riding my bicycle with my boys. I’m 6’7”, 250 lbs. and I like to eat and drink wine, so I end up working out 6 or 7 days a week.
After the gym I help my wife make breakfast and get our kids out the door. The first hour or two of my days I focus on prospecting new business. I always try to prospect first in order to build my pipeline. The rest of my day is then spent on Zoom calls, client meetings, tours, and chasing big opportunities.
My day ends around 6 or 7 pm. Working from home has made me closer with my family. I make dinner every night, and every Thursday night my wife and I have a dinner date and margaritas at the Bal Harbour Shops.
Stoic Urbanist: You earned a BS in Real Estate. What inspired you to follow a career in real estate at such a young age?
Mr. Killingsworth: I initially wanted a degree in business or construction management. I played football in college at West Virginia Wesleyan, but it was too far from home and the food was horrible. My short-lived football career ended after two years and I transferred to Florida State University. FSU didn’t offer a construction management program, but the real estate program looked interesting.
Stoic Urbanist: What was your first job?
Mr. Killingsworth: I was 17 when I got my first job working at Sara’s Pizza Kitchen in North Miami. My favorite job was being a rickshaw runner in Coconut Grove. That job helped pay for college. I met some great friends and got myself into great shape. And I still stay in touch with many of my fellow rickshaw runners.
My first job out of college I worked for Starbucks helping with site selection; it was a paid internship. Shortly thereafter I entered Terranova’s training program and at the time Beth Azor was coaching. I learned a lot from Beth and she helped me develop as a young professional and taught me the basics of commercial real estate.
Stoic Urbanist: What impact has COVID had on the office market?
Mr. Killingsworth: From a national perspective, outside of South Florida, it definitely has had a substantial impact, but it’s not entirely because of the “work from home” component. Historically, most companies have leased more real estate than they really needed, and the reality is that it is usually one of the highest fixed expenses for a company. Companies have come to realize that they are not using space efficiently. Real estate pre-COVID-19 wasn’t a priority, but now business leaders are scrutinizing leases more closely. The business was working for the real estate, but the real estate wasn’t necessarily working for the business.
It seems like business leaders were surprised that their IT systems could handle the overnight demand of their people working remotely. For most organizations, it was a relatively smooth transition and employees were able to remain productive. Now that we’re emerging from COVID, companies will continue to focus on gaining operational efficiency and eliminating unnecessary real estate expenses. We’re having meaningful conversations with tenants about how to better utilize their office needs and create the right environment for their employees to stay engaged and productive at home or in the office.
As far as South Florida goes, things started to open up in late spring 2020. With Florida opening up sooner than most places in the country, many executives from across the US started seeing the benefits of living here from a financial and lifestyle perspective. We’ve seen substantial operations move here and we’re also seeing interest in smaller family offices for executive teams. COVID has benefited the South Florida office market and we think that trend will continue for a significant period of time.
In recent years we’ve averaged 300,000–400,000 sq. ft. of office activity per year in Miami-Dade County. In the last year we’ve seen over 1,000,000 sq. ft. of new to market tenant demand looking to relocate their HQs or create a new operations hub. Of the 1,000,000 sq. ft., the bulk of the demand is coming from financial services, alt-finance (VCs, hedge funds, etc.), and technology. We’re seeing some tech companies doubling or even tripling their existing presence in South Florida.
Some of the notable companies that have relocated to South Florida include:
Blackstone (Technology Division)
Founds Fund (Peter Thiel)
Atomic (Jack Abraham)
Microsoft (Regional Hub, Latin America)
Stoic Urbanist: Which office submarkets are the most sought after in South Florida and why?
Mr. Killingsworth: Most companies want to be in a central location near amenities, with good access to minimize their employees’ commute to work. Although we advise clients throughout South Florida, we’re seeing significant tenant demand in Brickell, Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, and Blue Lagoon/Doral. Most of the recent tenants we represent are either finance or tech companies. We’re also starting to see more interest in Wynwood and Coconut Grove now that CocoWalk has been beautifully renovated. Sixty percent of our business is in Miami-Dade County.
Stoic Urbanist: Which South Florida CRE professionals do you have a lot of respect for and why? Name 2 or 3.
Mr. Killingsworth: My partner, Shay Pope, first and foremost. We’ve known each other for about 20 years and have been working together for 6 years. We started in the business around the same time and we’re close to the same age. While we have completely different personalities, we share a similar commitment to serve our clients, helping them to avoid risks and ensure their real estate project is a success.
Also, there are a lot of talented people in our industry and I believe there is plenty of opportunity. If we all do well, South Florida does well. I want everyone to be successful. I love to compete and win business. However, I respect any broker who’s committed to helping their clients make the right decision to support their long- and short-term business needs. Luckily, there is enough business for everyone.
Stoic Urbanist: What hobbies or interests do you have?
Mr. Killingsworth: I love to spend quality time with my family and try my best to be a good husband and father. We love to travel as a family and my kids have been to more countries than I had been to when I was 40. My wife is from Colombia so we travel to South America often. We love to entertain family and friends at our home. My dirty little secret is that I own six BBQ grills and consider myself a gringo gaucho!
Stoic Urbanist: What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
Mr. Killingsworth: I try to read two or three books every month. I recently read The Transparency Sale by Todd Caponi and highly recommend it. I also just finished reading Powerhouse Principles by the Condo King himself, Jorge Pérez. He’s very passionate about our business. Two of my favorite books include Start with Why by Simon Sinek and The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle.
Stoic Urbanist: What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Mr. Killingsworth: My wife. You are definitely lucky when you find the right person. She keeps me grounded and on my toes. I respect my wife and I think she makes me a better person.
Spending time with my kids and being present at their sporting events and other interests is something I take very seriously. Childhood is short and we only have a limited amount of time to ensure we’re raising quality people. I like investing my time with my sons.
I also like investing in the stock market.
Stoic Urbanist: What’s something very few people know about you?
Mr. Killingsworth: I was diagnosed with a learning disability and dyslexia in school. I had to work a little harder than others, but I learned to set goals and overcome those challenges. Working hard, but struggling, forced me to become disciplined, and as a result it forced me to hustle.
If you’re an urban planner, elected official, or real estate developer interested in redevelopment at a local level, Reimagining Greenville: Building the Best Downtown in America is the book for you.
Home to 70,000 residents, Greenville is a small city nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western South Carolina that was once known as the textile capital of the United States. In love with the automobile, Americans in the 60’s and 70’ were suddenly driving more than they were walking, and shopping malls began to pop up on the outskirts of cities. Migration to the suburbs followed, and like many downtown districts throughout the country, Greenville became hollowed out and unsafe.
While most American cities turned their backs on their downtowns, Greenville chose a different path. The city’s leadership reimagined their downtown, and for the better part of the past four decades, it has consistently invested in the city’s historic business district. As a result, Greenville was recently recognized as the #6 Best City in the U.S., according to Conde Nast Traveler’s 2020 Readers Choice Awards.
Reimagining Greenville: Building the Best Downtown in America is a case study in urban redevelopment. The small Southern city was not an overnight success story, but it is one of the finest examples of urban reinvention in the United States. This inspiring, short book written by John Boyanoski and Greenville Mayor Knox White takes readers step-by-step along Greenville’s 40 +year journey as they conceived and implemented their long-term vision for Greenville reinvention. Greenville succeeded because it came up with a vision in the 1970’s and stuck with it. Later the city focused on developing it’s natural assets (the Reedy River), invested in a number of game-changing development projects that attracted residents and visitors to downtown and most importantly encouraged mixed-use development. This inspiring book about Greenville makes for a great case study on how to reimagine your city.