AMERICAN LAWYER MEDIA
Dealmakers: Danet Linares and Tere Blanca
The Deal: Blanca Commercial Real Estate brokers represented 1450 Brickell landlord Rilea Group in leasing 80,000 square feet of office space to the law firm Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod. Bilzin signed a 15-year lease to become the first tenant at 1450 Brickell, which is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2010.
The law firm plans to move into the 21st through 24th floors of the 35-story tower at the end of 2010, when its lease at the Wachovia Financial Center in downtown Miami expires.
Details: For Linares and Blanca, negotiating the Bilzin lease at 1450 Brickell felt like a reunion of old friends.
Linares, who spent more than 10 years with Wachovia Financial’s in-house leasing team, first sat across the negotiating table from Bilzin managing partner John Sumberg in 1998. At the time, Linares and Bilzin hashed out a deal to keep the growing law firm in the Wachovia building through the end of 2010.
Linares also had dealt with Bilzin in a failed lease deal to take space at the Brickell Financial Center, where she headed up leasing. Bilzin pulled out of the lease in February. The project has no financing, and its completion is uncertain.
Shortly after the deal with Bilzin fell apart, Linares joined Blanca Commercial, which represented 1450 Brickell.
Discussions with Bilzin for space at 1450 Brickell began in April.
“There were so many moving parts that this was a 24/7 deal instead of a 9-to-5 deal,” she said. “The Wachovia transaction [in 1998] seemed to happen in about five minutes. I met with John, he told me what they needed, and we shook hands.”
Of course, in a crowded Central Business District office market that favors tenants, the lease rates and concessions given to Bilzin had to compare favorably to the other buildings being considered. Blanca declined to discuss specific lease terms but acknowledged that the deal was “competitive.”
In an interview last week Sumberg said the lease includes expansion options but declined to disclose the terms.
With the 1450 Brickell lease, Linares and Blanca had to educate Bilzin’s decision-makers about the development and what set it apart from the nearly 2 million square feet of office space in the pipeline for Miami’s central business district.
Bilzin executives were impressed by 1450 Brickell’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification, its location away from the Brickell bridge traffic bottleneck and the layout of the floors, Blanca said.
“Much of what we found ourselves doing was educating the parties on the attributes of the building,” she said. “If you try to enter a negotiation without going through the process of understanding the asset, you really face obstacles.”
Bilzin was represented in the 1450 Brickell lease by CRESA Partners’ Barbara Liberatore Black and Matthew Goodman.
“The key to this deal was the strong relationship we had with everyone sitting across the table from us,” Blanca said. “Barbara did an outstanding job for them. At one time she was negotiating with three buildings [1450 Brickell, Met 2 and Wachovia] in what was a huge process.”
UBS Financial Services, a division of the Swiss banking giant, was to anchor 1450 Brickell, but after the economic meltdown a year ago, the bank decided to stay put in three separate Miami offices.
With a flagship tenant now secured, Linares and Blanca say they expect the signing will help them with other deals. The brokers are talking to possible tenants who are looking to occupy between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet apiece.
Background: Linares is executive vice president of Blanca Commercial. Blanca is principal of the firm.
— Eric Kalis