A New Day For Beach Colony West
One Condominium’s Journey to Total Market Transformation
By Selena Chavis, Condo Owner Magazine, Volume 17, Issue 3
NAVARRE BEACH, Fla.–October 31st of this year will mark a milestone event on the storyline of Beach Colony West condominium. Completed in 2009, units at the beachfront condominium located on Navarre Beach will be eligible for closings, and the first owners will be able to occupy the property.
Beach Colony West will showcase a new look and feel, according to Gay Landreth, managing member and broker of La Florida, a boutique real estate firm serving the Florida panhandle. In fact, a complete transformation has taken place that includes a rebranding effort, re-pricing, the opening of a sales and Discovery Center, and two model homes.
“This is the only play on Navarre Beach that is new and has never been occupied,” said(Gay) Landreth, adding that Navarre is poised for significant growth. “People who were not looking at Navarre Beach before are now looking for the relaxed lifestyle it offers.”
Different than the neighboring communities of Destin, Panama City Beach, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Navarre has not experienced an extreme development boom and growth curve in recent decades. “It’s a unique place,” said Jeff Landreth, co-founder and director of business development and operations for La Florida. “I think people are gravitating to it for a variety of reasons.
The mortgage note for Beach Colony West was purchased this past summer, and a foreclosure date of September 24, 2013, is currently scheduled. La Florida assisted the fund that purchased the note and led the strategy to transform Beach Colony West to what the group hopes will become the hottest condo opportunity in the region. “There is a pent up demand for new construction on the beach,” said (Gay) Landreth, pointing out that while it is in fact the only “new” property on Navarre Beach, there are no building cranes engaged in construction east or west of the location either.
It is not the first time that La Florida has taken on a “911” property for repositioning. The group completed a similar transformation project with Bella Vita condominium located in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., along Highway 30-A in 2002.
Depth Of Research
The La Florida group noted that a number of key ingredients must be in place to lay the foundation for a condominium rebranding effort to be successful. According to (Gay) Landreth, there were many market indicators that the timing was right for the Beach Colony West project. In fact, there was a lot of interest from funds and developers to win the property. “We had to first determine if Beach Colony was a good play,” she emphasized. “Is Beach Colony West going to be looking for a market, or is a market going to be looking for Beach Colony West?”
While the lack of new construction along the Florida panhandle, and especially Navarre, was an obvious indicator of the potential for the property, (Jeff) Landreth explained that a much more thorough analysis must take place to determine feasibility. “There was an indication about 12 to 18 months ago that the market was seeing a resurgence,” he said, noting that La Florida went deep into public record data to determine not only the number and growth of beachfront purchases but also how purchases were being made.
An inventory was also taken of foreclosures and potential for more foreclosure activity to ensure that the market was not primed for dilution that could bring values down. “In general, from a macro perspective, the supply [of foreclosures] was dwindling because a lot of the distressed properties had been soaked up,” he said. “Plus, there was no new high-rise construction.”
(Gay) Landreth pointed out that it takes much more than MLS numbers to draw a conclusion about whether a property is a good play. Plus, when selling “second homes,” the rules change even more. “You have to look at all levels to understand the overall market and a specific destination,” she said, pointing out that the region is competing with a variety of Florida destinations, the Caribbean and even the mountains. “A second home is something you can have in many different places.”
A Winning Marketing Strategy
To ensure a successful rebranding of Beach Colony West, La Florida looked to the expertise of boutique advertising and marketing firm VERGE, of Mobile, Ala. “We wanted to completely rebrand the property so that it would be differentiated from its previous look,” said VERGE Principal Laura Burton.
Drawing from the laid-back atmosphere of the Navarre community, the property was rebranded to reflect a local, beach-casual image, while still conveying an upscale message that would communicate the most up-to-date design and amenities within its two- and three- bedroom units.
One way the firm connected the local beach and community to the project was through a new logo showcasing a sea turtle indigenous to the area as the central image. Navarre Beach is home to Gulf Islands National Seashore, with miles of dunes, nesting sea turtles and other wildlife.
Marketing and advertising strategies also draw on the unique beachfront appeal of the property, according to Burton. Because Beach Colony West is positioned back and behind an expansive beachfront pool, every unit offers a direct coastal view. Large terraces ensure sweeping Gulf views—an obvious focal point of marketing. “We are just trying to get out to the audience that it’s new, it’s Gulf-front, and it’s never been lived in,” Burton emphasized.
Solid research, a well-devised marketing strategy and a sure product are a start, according to (Gay) Landreth. But to ensure all of these elements transfer to sales requires a well-thought-out go-to-market strategy. The first step was to get buy-in from the local broker community. “We have been embraced by the co-broker community,” she said, adding that this triumph has been very encouraging for La Florida.
To prepare for an effective sales atmosphere at Beach Colony West, La Florida opened two complete models for viewing and the Discovery Center where Realtors can meet with clients and host sales meetings.
Other features of the Discovery Center are a large terrace for viewing and a lifestyle wall designed to depict the multi-generational component of Navarre. Drawing from the region’s origins, the wall will depict how the love of the area has been passed down generationally. “We believe our appeal will be to both young couples and Baby Boomers,” (Gay) Landreth said. “Our lifestyle wall will depict that.
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