August 2017 Cover Stories Innovate On The Cover

Front Street: A Trusted Partner for All Your Commercial Real Estate Needs


Written By: Magen Brubaker

When Nick Banks, founder and managing director of Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group, started his business in 2002, he wanted to create something that was unique from other real estate firms. He wanted to do commercial real estate differently.

While on vacation in Wilmington, North Carolina, Nick took a walk along the waterfront that brought him to the street sign “Front Street.” The name resonated with Nick. This walk and the name “Front Street” would later lead to the idea of how a commercial real estate group would change the commercial real estate industry in North and Central Florida.

Front Street gave life to a real estate business that would truly be different from the rest — one that is client centric and focuses on teamwork and collaboration.

“I knew when I started my own company I wanted to make it about more than just doing business. I wanted to create a culture of teamwork and I also wanted to make real impact in the communities we do business in,” Nick Banks said. “I wanted to create a commercial only brokerage business, which was unique in Gainesville, that leveraged my experience in commercial real estate financing and development.”

Front Street began doing business solely as a commercial brokerage company and has since evolved into a full-service commercial real estate firm that offers clients leasing, landlord representation, tenant representation, investment sales, property management and mortgage banking solutions throughout North and Central Florida. Front Street recently has taken on a new endeavor by expanding into commercial real estate insurance. In July 2017, Front Street welcomed 13-year insurance veteran, Greg Banks, who joined the team to form Front Street Insurance Group.

Greg, who moved to Gainesville in 2006, began his insurance career working as an independent insurance adjuster in markets throughout Florida and later formed an independent agency which he has led since 2014. “Being an independent insurance adjuster meant I didn’t work for any one insurance company. I was contracted out by several,” Greg Banks said. “Insurance adjusters are policy experts. We understand the policies, we know what they cover and what they don’t cover.”

Front street will offer all lines of commercial insurance including general liability, professional liability, commercial property coverage, and more. “We’re excited to offer a new service for our clients to help streamline the way they operate,” Greg said. “Our clients look to us to provide consultation to make the best business decisions and we feel providing this service will add tremendous value for them.”

Front Street has built a culture based on teamwork, collaboration and bringing positive impact to the communities they do business in. They have built a team of individuals who seek to go beyond the needs of their clients.

“Most brokerage companies are set up in a way that promotes internal competition, so the person working within your same organization at the desk next to you, often times, is more of a competitor than a teammate,” Nick Banks said. “We’ve set up a culture here that promotes teamwork where our brokers work together rather than competing with one another.”

This culture is at the forefront of the business model. The eye-catching green Front Street signs are devoid of names and the office has an open and inviting floorplan, furthering the mindset that teamwork gets the job done at the end of the day. Front Street clients benefit from having a whole team of people dedicated to their needs rather than just an individual.

“There are no closed doors or secrets within our team about what we’re doing or who we’re working with, and I think that is a very different approach to this industry,” Nick Banks said.

Front Street’s landlord and property management clients include the University of Florida, Regency Group, Celebration Pointe, Nalbandian Properties, the Rosen Group, the City of Gainesville, Kite Realty Group, RD Management, Santa Fe College, Tioga Town Center, the RMR Group, and many more.
“We want to help create opportunities for our clients, team members, and for the communities we do business in to help them all achieve their goals,” Keith Crutcher, Front Street’s managing director of property management, said.

Front Street’s focus on teamwork and dedication to their clients has set Front Street up for success. The group has grown immensely since its start in 2002 and continues to grow with an annual growth rate of about 60 percent in the last five years. With only four people in the entire organization three years ago, Front Street now has 39 team members and a group of 7-to-8 interns at any time.

In the two years since Front Street began offering property management, Front Street went from managing zero square feet to over 1 million square feet of office, retail, industrial and multifamily properties.

Due to their success and rapid growth, Front Street was named a Gator100 Award recipient twice, which awards the 100 fastest growing gator-owned or gator-led organizations in the world.

“Being a part of the growth of Front Street has really been fulfilling. We have an incredible team of individuals with a singular focus on providing exceptional service to our commercial real estate clients,” Crutcher said.

Front Street is more than just a market leader in commercial real estate. The firm is loyally dedicated to their clients and the community. Through their Invested program, 10 percent of Front Street’s commission revenue is donated to cause-related organizations.

“I’ve learned that our clients are very committed to the community, and our Invested program is something that resonates deeply with them. It allows doing business with us to be an extension of their passions and beliefs,” Nick Banks said. “A lot of our team’s core values are tied to our Invested program. This has really been a defining foundation of our culture and has brought the broad majority of our team members to our company.”

Front Street’s Invested program promotes local impact through values that drive their business and their clients’ lives by supporting local organizations such as the United Way of North Central Florida, Tyler’s Hope, Child Advocacy Center, UF Health Shand’s Children’s Hospital, The Education Foundation and many more.

“The culture of our team has really evolved into an environment where our people thrive on being a part of something bigger than themselves,” Crutcher said. “We’re fortunate that through our Invested program and through our business we get to play a legitimate role in building and shaping the communities we do business in.”

Front Street is on the rise to becoming the go-to commercial real estate broker in markets throughout North and Central Florida. With a collaborative work environment encouraging brokers and team members to work together, Front Street clients are receiving the highest level of service while giving back to their community. With a full slate of commercial real estate services including brokerage, property management, and now insurance, they are a true one-stop shop.

“People do business with people they like and trust,” Nick Banks said. “I’m that same way. Keith and I were friends and had done business together before we became partners. When I got into the management business I wanted to work with him because I like him and I trust him. Property management was an extension of our core business and a value add to our clients. Insurance is the same way; it’s fulfilling for us to offer additional services to our clients. More importantly, I really like the idea of working with my brother and I know he will add tremendous value to our clients and our team.”

“Front Street is the preeminent tenant rep and landlord broker group in our area. Their expert insight into our market allows them to make the most synergistic matches with the highest potential for long-term success, which, as a developer, is key to our continued growth.”— Deborah Butler, Owner of Butler Enterprises Inc.

Photography by John Sloan

 

MAGEN BRUBAKER is a third-year journalism student at the University of Florida with a concentration in political science. When she’s not obsessing over her two dogs, she’s traveling with friends and dancing at music festivals. After graduation, Magen hopes to move to New York City and eventually write for Saturday Night Live.

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