The man who was the driving force behind the development of Avalon, Atlantic Station and other high-service, customer-focused retail centers for North American Properties is off to create more such centers running his own business.
Mark Toro, who was president of NAP’s Atlanta division, enlisted three veterans of that operation to open Toro Development Company, which plans to acquire sites including dead malls and “turn them into their highest and most the best,” according to a press release. .
The new company enjoys strong support. Toro Development is a partner in Four Stones Real Estate, an investment firm led by Andrew T. Cathy, executive vice president of operations for Chick-Fil-A and a member of the firm’s founding family, whose fortune is rated over $14 billion.
The institutional investment fund Lubert-Adler has also committed itself as an investor in the company.
“We will focus on the Sunbelt. We know better and we have a lot of connections there,” Toro said. “And it won’t just be dead malls that we’re looking at, but other large contiguous sites with infrastructure in place and where whatever use on that site has been eclipsed.”
He named outdated suburban office parks that are not walkable to a downtown core as prime targets. These sites would be redeveloped with retail and service amenities as well as several food and beverage operations.
“That’s what drives people’s experiences,” Toro said. “We see a lot of that and already have our hooks in a few deals.”
Partners in the company are John Kelley, Richard Munger and Vicky Boyce, all former NAP executives who helped found Avalon, Atlantic Station, Colony Square and Edge on the Beltline. Kelley will lead all commercial developments, while Munger will oversee all residential developments. Boyce began working with Toro in 2001 and will serve as the company’s chief financial officer.
“It’s the perfect marriage of capital and capacity,” said Dean Adler, CEO of Lubert-Adler. “What Mark Toro has accomplished is unprecedented in our industry, and the talent and expertise of his team will be a real differentiator for us in the market.”