Courtelis Company

Courtelis Company picThe Courtelis Company is moving beyond big-box retail development and into the mixed-use and multifamily residential sectors.
By Jim Harris, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media

The retail centers developed and built by Courtelis Company offer more than just stores and parking lots. 

“We’ve stood out during the years by creating a sense of place in our projects,” says Rod Castan, president of the Miami-based company’s leasing and property management services division. “Many of the projects we’ve developed through the years have had a number of interesting water features, inviting common areas and meticulously planned open spaces. 

“We’re very pedestrian-oriented in our approach to retail, which helps the retailers and restaurants in our developments from a sustainability and traffic generation standpoint,” he adds. “We focus on developing centers that are extremely aesthetically pleasing, where people want to hang out and bring their families.”

The company specializes in developing shopping centers and multifamily residential complexes. Courtelis also serves as a general contractor and performs retail leasing and property management services for the projects it develops. “We are a multifaceted and diversified organization,” Castan says.  

During its 55 years in business, Courtelis Company has developed more than 5 million square feet of shopping center space and more than 10,000 residential units. The company is active in the Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Naples, Melbourne, Orlando and Jacksonville markets.

A Long-Term Approach

Courtelis Company was founded in 1963 by Alec P. Courtelis, who was joined in 1965 by W. Douglas Pitts, Sr. Following Courtelis’ passing in 1996, Pitts became the company’s chairman and CEO. His son, W. Douglas Pitts Jr., leads the company’s construction division. 

“Our greatest strength is our consistency and long-term approach to development, which comes from the commitment of the two families that own the company,” Castan says. “[The Courtelis and Pitts families] have been involved in the business for many years and are very community minded.”

The company’s owners participate in a number of community-oriented organizations and causes including Habitat for Humanity, the Audubon Society and Everglades Foundation. The Courtelis family also is a donor to the Florida State University system. Courtelis Company box

The Courtelis Company’s other key management team members include Executive Vice President Elias Vassilaros, a 40-year veteran of the company and president of its development and asset management services division. 

Castan and several other members of the Courtelis Company staff are active members of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Castan has served as Florida State director and Southern Division operations chairman for the organization, and frequently lectures at many of its education programs. The ICSC has recognized the company’s work several times in the past, including giving Courtelis Company its International Design and Development Award for the Waterside Shops at Pelican Bay project in Naples, Fla.

Ongoing Projects

The Courtelis Company’s ongoing projects include the Coral Town Plaza, a mixed-use commercial development in South Dade County, Fla. 

The company is developing and building the center’s retail component in two phases. The first phase includes a 41,000-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market, which opened in April; and nine other retail spaces totaling 10,000 square feet, which will open this fall.

The second phase of the project includes two 4,000-square-foot retail buildings, and will open next year. Coral Town Plaza also includes 426 multi-family residential units.

The Courtelis Company used new market tax credit financing through SunTrust Bank to develop the project. “This is a vehicle of federally supported tax credits used to encourage development in lower middle-income areas and areas in need of development and investment,” Castan says. “This particular area was designated as a ‘food desert’ because of its lack of grocery stores and services. It also is located on a mass transit hub thereby promoting smart growth.”

The developer is reaching out to local businesses to open shops in the center. “This is a community oriented project,” he adds. “We’re trying to reach out to more ethnic diversity in the ownership of our businesses and encourage new business startups.”

Courtelis Company other recent projects include Murano, a 240-unit Class A apartment complex in Orlando. The company developed the project and completed it in 2017 in conjunction with Orlando-based general contractor Roger B. Kennedy Construction and Forum Architecture. Joint venture partners in the project include the Kislak Company and HMG Courtland. 

New Opportunities

The company‘s current developments include Murano at Three Oaks, a new 312-unit multifamily project planned in the Estero area of Southwest Florida, in close proximity to the Florida Gulf Coast University. Courtelis Company is also consulting, leasing and managing the Pines City Center, a 300,000-square-foot ground-up retail project in Pembroke Pines, Fla. The center is adjacent to the city’s new city hall and civic center as well as a 420-unit multifamily development. The project is being developed by the Terra Group, of Miami.

Both projects reflect a shift in the company’s development approach. “We’ve definitely focused more lately on the multifamily sector and daily-needs retail and less on the big-box retail side of the market,” Castan says. “We continue to have a strong pipeline of grocery store-anchored shopping centers, but we like to consider ourselves as community builders as part of our response to changes in the retail market and demographics. There is clearly a need for more housing here in Florida as more people continue to move into the state.”

The company is also looking into converting former big-box retail sites into alternative uses including as fitness centers, entertainment, medical or distribution facilities. 

“We’re excited about growing our multifamily component, and we are looking into several adaptive re-use projects across Florida,” Castan says. “We think there are many opportunities for us in that kind of work.”

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