Success elevates St. Pete brokerage to bigger team, new office

From apartment deals in the Gandy corridor to developing St. Pete’s first car condo project Motocave, Commercial Partners Realty President and co-founder Scott Clendening wants to extend the brokerage’s presence beyond the county lines. 

“We’ve traditionally been a St. Pete company, but that’s not our story anymore. We want to become the largest boutique brokerage firm in the Tampa Bay area. Our affiliations, collaborations and team of specialists are our biggest differentiators,” Clendening said inside his St. Pete office at 299 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N. 

Since 1985, Clendening has specialized in sales, leasing and development in the commercial and industrial space. In 1995, the real estate broker co-founded CPR, which merged with prominent civil engineering firm George F. Young Inc. 

“At the time, my partner Chuck Bohac and I had a handful of out-of-town clients from Atlanta wanting to develop apartment complexes on Gandy Boulevard. They didn’t have a good surveyor and architectural firm, so we introduced them to George F. Young,” Clendening recalled. “We had clients needing both of our services – it’s how the marriage formed.”  

Today, CPR has 18 agents scattered throughout the region, specializing in various asset classes such as retail in northern Hillsborough County and office purchases in downtown Tampa and St. Pete. 

To better serve the additional clients, Clendening will be relocating his St. Pete operations to a larger space. He inked a lease in June to take 3,300 square feet of the top floor in the Glades Building in the Baypoint Commercial Center to “be at the foot of the bridge.”

“While many brokerage firms are on hiring freezes, we are doing the opposite. We will more than double our size,” Clendening said.

The company recently hired seasoned commercial real estate executive Bill Strong as the VP of corporate service. Strong worked at some of the largest national brokerages, including Trammell Crow Company, CBRE, Grubb and Ellis and Binswanger.

We don’t put reins on anybody, but strongly encourage them to follow their interests and passion. Most boutique firms tend to have generalists and national companies tend to be very focused on specialization,” Clendening said.

“I grew up in the national business and that’s how we made our firm. You can’t be an expert in everything – you have a better chance when specializing in a specific asset class.” 

As the team prepares to move into the new space in October, Clendening and CPR VP Austin Karrick have listed the 1.42-acre property housing the current office and other structures with the tenants, who will also be relocating. 

Commercial Partners Realty’s office and adjacent property for sale at 299 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N. 

“The site could be redeveloped into a market-rate, 200-foot apartment building,” Clendening said. Retailers could occupy 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of ground floor space. There could also be 475 residential units built on top of a five-story parking garage. 

“We have a couple of strong developers wanting this deal,” he said. The property has a guidance pricing of $28 million and is not yet under contract.

The duo is confident it will trade hands soon, given the latest trends in the overall market. 

“The Tampa-St. Pete market get the lion’s share of that migration,” Clendening said. “You have to go vertical. We don’t have enough land mass for sprawl. There are real efficiencies with going vertical in creating a walkable city. The city planners are smart about development in preserving the character of St. Pete while accommodating the growth.” 

Austin Karrick, vice president of Commercial Partners Realty. Image provided.

Karrick also chimed in, stating, “There were a lot of land deals in Pinellas, but now every new development is a redevelopment play. It takes a lot of boots on the ground and understanding for land assemblages, and when people figure out that’s what a developer is doing, the price of poker goes up.”

With a new lease and carved out future, Clendening said he is looking forward to switching gears and serving in a greater mentorship capacity. 

“I will be minimizing my management role in the next three to five years and focus more on mentoring newer brokers and helping select clients,” Clendening said. “As it’s emphasized in our name, we are about collaboration.” 

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