News Wire


Friday, April 24, 2015

REPORT: More etailers to open brick-and-mortar stores in 2015

More online retailers say they plan to explore the brick-and-mortar channel this year, according to a survey of 1,000 online retail professionals conducted by eBay. 

About 75 percent of the respondents said they have a positive outlook for retail sales in 2015. Roughly 72 percent said they anticipate that online revenue will increase by 17 percent. But sales in brick-and-mortar stores will also be part of that growth. Some 14 percent of the respondents said they intend to make their initial investment in the in-store experience this year. 

An additional 12 percent say they will pursue global brick-and-mortar expansion this year, and a further 11 percent will open pop-up shops to drive sales. Several online brands, including BaubleBar, Bonobos, JustFab and Warby Parker have invested in brick-and-mortar operations in recent years.

Perhaps this is no wonder. In-store conversion rates continue to be four times higher than online-only conversion rates, according to an ICSC report titled Shopping Centers: America’s First and Foremost Marketplace. “Consumers still prefer in-store shopping,” the report reads. “Ninety-four percent of total retail spending happens within the four walls of a physical store.”

In 2013 online retail sales came to some $263 billion, which accounts for only 6 percent of total retail sales, according to the Commerce Department. In-store sales, meanwhile, totaled about $4.3 trillion.

GBCI Renamed Green Business Certification Inc.

Washington, D.C.  – The GBCI Board of Directors announced that GBCI, formerly known as the Green Building Certification Institute, has changed its name to Green Business Certification Inc. It will continue to be referred to as GBCI.

“GBCI is a dynamic brand that has been synonymous with LEED and green building since it was founded in 2008,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO, GBCI. “GBCI’s name change is a true reflection of our direction and vision for the organization, which is to extend its core competencies of certification and credentialing services to organizations that want to advance green business and sustainability practices. Third-party validation has become a highly regarded value across the globe and GBCI is well-positioned to fulfill that need.”

GBCI is the only group to administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System. GBCI also exclusively provides certification and credentialing services for the PEER standard for power systems; the WELL building standard for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being; and the GRESB benchmark, which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector.
As the premier independent, third-party global certification and credentialing body related to the green business industry, GBCI ensures best in class delivery and provides a supporting suite of services, including brand building and brand management, user experience, platform development and sales and marketing. For more information, visit

BridgeInvest Residential Funds First Loan in 2015

BridgeInvest Residential, a Miami-based lender focused on financing residential investment properties in Florida, recently closed a $3.0 million senior loan cross-collateralized by two waterfront units at the Trump Palace condominium in Sunny Isles Beach. 

The high-leverage loan represented over 75% of the original purchase price of the units, allowing the borrower to recoup most of their equity in the properties and execute on another condo purchase.

Each unit is a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom condo with over 2,000 square feet featuring expansive water views from multiple balconies. Both units are used as investment properties and currently cash flowing. The properties’ prime location combined with the in-place cash flow made this an attractive investment for the newly-formed lender.

Born out of one of South Florida’s largest private commercial lending businesses, BridgeInvest Residential was able to leverage its team’s professionalism and quality of execution to structure and fund the deal in less than thirty days. 

“As with our commercial lending platform, we take pride in our ability to offer flexible and reliable loans which meet our borrowers’ specific financing needs. We are committed to expanding our residential lending business in 2015 to help high-quality borrowers capture timely investment opportunities,” said Alex Horn, Managing Partner of BridgeInvest Residential.

Recently formed at the end of 2014, BridgeInvest Residential has now closed several transactions totaling over $7 million. The NMLS approved direct lender is seeking residential loans on investment properties above $1 million secured by prime Florida real estate. 

As a private lender, BridgeInvest Residential is able to originate loans based on “common-sense” underwriting and does not have any minimum credit requirements. They target maximum leverage of approximately 70% of the property’s value and interest rates can be as low as 8-9% per annum.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Westin Hotels Makes Debut on Jekyll Island, Georgia’s Acclaimed Barrier Reef Island

JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) today announced the opening of The Westin Jekyll Island , a 200-room, convention-class, beachfront hotel on Georgia's acclaimed barrier island. It is one of six new Westin hotels opening in North America this year and follows the brand’s 200th opening worldwide in 2014.

“The Westin Jekyll Island is a terrific new addition to the Westin brand’s growing portfolio and provides a restful retreat for travelers on one of the most beautiful barrier islands in the United States,” said Bob Jacobs , Vice President of Brand Management for Sheraton and Westin. “This spectacular new Westin hotel showcases all of the brand’s services and amenities designed to inspire wellbeing within close proximity of the area’s premier convention facility, as well as a variety of attractions.”

The Westin Jekyll Island is the cornerstone of Jekyll Island's Beach Village project, which includes an oceanfront promenade, village green, restaurants, upscale boutiques, Great Dunes Park and the 128,000-square-foot Jekyll Island Convention Center – the only beachfront convention center in the southeast.

The hotel is owned by Jekyll Oceanfront Hotel, LLC (JOFH), a joint venture comprised of several investors including Leon N. Weiner & Associates , Inc, a nationally recognized real estate development company, and New Castle Hotels & Resorts, an award- winning, independent third-party hotel manager.

"This hotel was purpose built to be a catalyst in the revitalization of Jekyll Island ," said Dave Curtis , president of Leon N. Weiner and Associates . "Coupled with the convention center, The Westin Jekyll Island makes this cherished barrier island a best-in-class destination and a first-choice option for meeting planners who prefer to keep their meetings in state, or within the region."

Offering breathtaking ocean views and direct beach access, The Westin Jekyll Island provides a sensory-rich environment and all of the brand’s signature amenities and services designed to inspire wellbeing. All 200 guestrooms are outfitted with the world-renowned Westin Heavenly® Bed featuring lush sheets, down cushioning and a patented pillow-top mattress, which cradles and contours to the body for complete comfort.

Another industry first, the Heavenly® Bath creates an invigorating spa-like experience, enhanced with the brand’s Heavenly® Shower, Heavenly® Robe and exclusive White Tea Aloe bath amenities. In-room, high-speed Internet access and an ergonomic work space will offer travelers convenience and productivity in a tranquil setting.

Dining options at The Westin Jekyll Island include The Reserve, an upscale, casual restaurant serving the freshest local seafood and Salty's poolside bar and café for cocktails and lighter fare.

At Harry’s @The Reserve, the hotel’s outdoor rooftop bar, guests can enjoy sweeping views of the beach and ocean. Westin SuperFoodsRX™ options are on the menu at all three restaurants.

The Westin Jekyll Island is an ideal choice for small groups, weddings and reunions in search of a premier location, offering 5,260 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and banquet facilities, as well as outdoor venues.

Additional facilities include a resort-style outdoor pool, the flexible, Tangent™ at Westin workspace where groups of four or more can collaborate, and the brand’s signature WestinWORKOUT® gym experience, including loaner gear and a running concierge.

The five-story, U-shaped, beachfront hotel was designed by LLW Architects of Memphis, Tenn. , to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, (LEED) Silver specifications and minimize the hotel's impact on the barrier island's sensitive surroundings.

The 8,750 cubic yards of concrete used in the construction were sourced from a plant in Brunswick, Ga. , only 15 miles from the site. Westin brand room design specifications also are 60 percent more sustainable than conventionally built guest rooms, providing a more healthful guest environment.

The Westin Jekyll Island is just minutes from the island's National Historic Landmark District and close to the island's four golf courses, 10 miles of barrier island beaches and a variety of outdoor recreation, including marsh eco-tours, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and more than 20 miles of bike paths and kayaking waterways.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Generation Homes’ Anna Maria Wins Award of Excellence in Parade of Homes

PALM COAST, Fla. (April 18, 2015) -- Generation Homes’ entry in the 2015 Flagler/Palm Coast Parade of Homes, the Anna Maria model at Beach Haven, won a coveted Award of Excellence by the Flagler Home Builders Association (FHBA).

The award in the $320,000 to $340,000 category came as FHBA kicked off its annual Parade of Homes with a banquet at the Hammock Beach Club. This year’s parade Featured 32 homes.

In the Anna Maria, Generation Homes has created an airy 2,400 square foot two-story home at 16 Beach Haven Parkway that maximizes cool blue ocean views and natural light through the use of large windows, open space, breezy porches and decks, bringing the outdoors in.  

“Generation Homes has built the Anna Maria for families to enjoy lazy summers, spring breaks and truly enhances beach living for many years to come,’ noted Donna Sadowski, Generation Homes’ vice president of sales and marketing.

The home represents Generation Homes’ flair for coastal design with wood floors, well placed foyers, optimum use of stairways and entrances, plenty of storage space and convenient laundry and utility rooms.

St. Augustine, Fla. Based Generation Homes built the Anna Marie to withstand the test of time and maximize comfort. Using effective and proven construction techniques has earned a well-deserved reputation for finish, style and sustainability.

In addition to the ocean coastline, the Beach Haven neighborhood features an outdoor pavilion, resort-style pool, lake with a walking bridge, along with a trail system, providing an assortment of leisure activities.

Beach Haven is located in Northeast Flagler County eight miles south of St. Augustine on A1A in Palm Coast and just north of historic Marineland. Take Interstate 95 to Exit 289. Go east on Palm Coast Parkway, towards the beach, continue over Hammock Dunes bridge toll road approximately three miles. Turn left on Camino del Mar Parkway. Turn right on A1A continue 5.6 miles. Turn left on Beach Haven Parkway.

Generation Homes is currently building in South Ponte Vedra Beach, Vilano Beach, St. Augustine Beach, Crescent Beach, Sea Grove, Anastasia Dunes, Sea Colony, Marsh Creek, and Whispering Oaks and on various lots in St. Johns and Flagler Beach, Beach Haven, Oceanside in Palm Coast, in historic Beauclerc in Jacksonville as well as on private lots in Northeast Florida.

For more information on Generation Homes in Beach Haven call Donna Sadowski at (904) 955-4769or visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

LandSouth Construction Ranked Among Nation's Top Apartment Contractors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 14, 2015 – LandSouth Construction, a Jacksonville, Fla. based general contractor specializing in multifamily, senior housing and mixed use developments, has made the prestigious National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) 2015 ranking of the nation’s largest apartment contractors at No. 25.

“We’re extremely honored to make the list as one of the top apartment construction companies in the country,” said LandSouth President/CEO James Pyle. “The honor validates the dedication and expertise of our team and our ability to effectively meet the needs of owners and developers on a daily basis.”

The National Multifamily Housing Council is the authoritative ranking of the nation's 50 largest apartment owners and 50 largest apartment managers. This year, NMHC has added rankings for the nation's top 25 developers and the top 25 general contractors.

The listing comes on the heels of a new study from the NMHC and National Apartment Association (NAA) that revealed the industry’s tremendous economic impact.  Apartments and their residents contribute $1.3 trillion annually to the economy and support 12.3 million jobs nationwide.

LandSouth Construction is currently working on projects throughout the Southeast including apartments and mixed use developments in Delray Beach, Oviedo, Sanford, Jacksonville and Orlando Fla., Collegedale, Tenn. and senior housing in Bonita Springs, Fla. In its 16 year history, LandSouth Construction has completed more than 10,000 multifamily units, including apartments, senior living, condominiums, and townhomes.

“Our team has worked diligently to become a premier construction partner and be recognized as one of the best in the industry,” said LandSouth’s Vice President of Operations Joe Passkiewicz. “Our mission is to ensure our clients are highly successful with their developments and communities. This recognition confirms that commitment.”

LandSouth uses its unique integrated construction approach where each service component works together to provide a seamless delivery system.

These components have been designed and refined to be complementary and each is performance enhanced with proven procedures, tested systems and the very latest technology. By emphasizing results and exceptional service, LandSouth Construction has created a construction process to provide the best possible value for clients.

For more information visit or call 904.273.6004.

LandSouth Construction is the Southeast's premier general contractor specializing in multifamily and senior housing and was recently named one of the Fastest Growing Companies in Florida and a Best Place to Work by the Jacksonville Business Journal. Since 1998 the firm has transformed ideas into first-class communities by providing superior construction management services while building long-term relationships. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. the contractor has completed more than 10,000 multifamily units including apartments, hotels, senior living, student and military housing, condominiums, townhomes and mixed use. LandSouth builds projects of the highest quality, aesthetic relevance and enduring value. For more information, call 904.273.6004 or visit

Based in Washington, D.C., the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is the leadership of the trillion-dollar apartment industry.  We bring together the prominent apartment owners, managers and developers who help create thriving communities by providing apartment homes for today’s 37 million Americans. NMHC provides a forum for insight, advocacy and action that enables both members and the communities they help build to thrive. For more information, contact NMHC at 202/974-2300, e-mail the Council at, or visit NMHC's web site at

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pre-Leasing of Phase II of Pine Hill Apartments is Underway as Construction Nears Completion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Pine Hill Properties has announced construction is almost complete on Phase II of the Pine Hill apartment community which will offer residents the unique combination of affordable living and convenient location. Pre-leasing has started.

SE Construction Services LLC broke ground late last year at 7920 Oriole Ave. just off Edgewood Avenue behind the Bradham and Brooks Branch Public Library, west of Lem Turner Road. It’s the first new apartment construction in area in over 20 years.

Phase II of Hill Apartments lays the foundations for what will be a stand-out addition to the community comprising of 56 new two-bedroom apartment homes in nine buildings on 3.9 acres. Convenient parking, laundry facilities and handicapped accessible homes are available.

“We are building phase two of Pine Hill Apartments to meet the growing demand for affordable rental homes in this highly desirable neighborhood that provides easy access to mass transportation, shopping, restaurants and major roads and highways,” said Christa Suto , manager of Pine Hill Properties. “At Pine Hill Apartments, we aim to provide residents a carefree, comfortable lifestyle with, professional service at a convenient location, phase two is no exception.”

Pine Hill Phase II features uniquely spacious floor plans with carpet throughout the living room and bedrooms. The kitchens are being designed with modern appliances and finishes. Baths have tile floors.

For more information call 904.765.7000, visit or e-mail