Avalon Developer Mark Toro Leaves North American Properties To Launch New Firm
The king of the retail reposition is heading off on his own to redevelop struggling properties across the Sun Belt.
Mark Toro, the former chairman of North American Properties, who co-founded its Southeastern office and led it for the past 25 years, has formed his own firm, Toro Development Co.
Toro, who developed the iconic Avalon mixed-use project in Alpharetta and most recently completed the redevelopment of Colony Square in Midtown, made the announcement on LinkedIn Thursday.
“After 25 wonderful years at the helm of North American Properties-Atlanta, I am excited to announce Toro Development Company, a venture focused on transforming distressed properties for the communities we serve,” Toro said on LinkedIn. “I am honored to be joined by my long-time friends and partners Richard Munger, John Kelley and Vicky Boyce to advance this new venture. Together, we represent one of the most capable and well-capitalized commercial real estate companies in the US today.”
Four Stones Real Estate, a private equity firm led by Chick-fil-A Executive Vice President Andrew Cathy, and Philadelphia-based investment firm Lubert-Adler are providing capital to Toro for the new company, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.
Toro Development has already targeted 17 “large, contiguous infill sites with infrastructure in place,” including office parks, warehouses and retail centers in the Sun Belt, Toro told the ABC.
Toro's move comes more than a year-and-a-half after NAP made a strategic shift in its investments, pulling out of two major mixed-use projects: the Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, which had been called Revel, and a partnership at the proposed $2B High Street development in Dunwoody. Toro stepped back from day-to-day operations at the firm, but he had remained NAP's chairman.
“We were at a point of decision at Revel and at High Street that we had to make a major [multiyear] commitment and hundreds of millions of dollars," Toro said in an interview with CoStar in 2019. "We chose to pursue this change in strategic direction."
Earlier this week, NAP announced it acquired an equity position in The Avenue East Cobb — a 230K SF lifestyle retail center in Marietta. The Cincinnati-based firm is partnering with The Avenue's current owner, PGIM Real Estate, to reposition the property.
NAP's plans for the property include creating a central lawn for events that strive to draw the public to the property and a “resort-level concierge program and community event lineup to elevate the experience on property,” the company said in a press release, a concept that the firm had modeled under Toro's leadership in Avalon, Atlantic Station and Colony Square. North American Properties' leasing team also is attempting to attract chef-driven restaurants and “relevant retail” to the center, which was built in 1999.
“Our plan is to create a socially magnetic place that pulls people together to hang out and connect with community,” NAP partner Adam Schwegman said in the release. “East Cobb is home to an incredible population of families who are looking for places to go and things to do, yet it lacks any resemblance of a downtown. Utilizing best practices from our other projects, we are excited to elevate this already great shopping and dining destination into a modern gathering place.”
NAP Managing Partner Tim Perry said as East Cobb matured as a market, The Avenue East Cobb became a community center.
“While The Avenue East Cobb has remained a high-performing asset over the years, NAP sees an opportunity to elevate the destination into a true third place with a modern mix of retailers and restaurants,” Perry said in a statement.