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Described as the “turnaround artist” for his work at Atlantic Station and Avalon, Mark Toro has left North American Properties to launch Toro Development Company, a venture “aimed at acquiring defunct sites such as dead malls and transforming them into their highest and best use,” according to a press release Monday.
Private equity investors Four Stones Real Estate and Lubert-Adler are providing capital for the venture.
“Using a data-driven approach, Toro and his veteran leadership team are evaluating opportunities to buy underperforming assets and transform them into vibrant mixed-use environments,” according to the release. And it’s not just enclosed malls. Toro is also targeting suburban office parks, shopping centers, and industrial sites.
“Enduring mixed-use developments require more than assembling different real estate uses onto one site,” Toro said in the release.
“It’s the integration of the physical, social and financial aspects of those disparate uses into one seamless experience that positively impacts communities and provides industry-leading returns for investors. Now more than ever, the world needs more places for people to feel connected and engaged through a shared experience. And I’m bullish on our plans and team’s ability to deliver these new places.”
John Kelley, Richard Munger, and Vicky Boyce — commercial real estate veterans involved with Avalon, Atlantic Station, Colony Square, and Edge on the Beltline — are all Partners at Toro Development Company. Kelley will drive all commercial development, while Munger will oversee all residential development. Boyce first started working with Toro in 2001 and will serve as Chief Financial Officer for the company.
Toro is retiring from his role as Chairman of the Board at NAP Atlanta (NAPA) to focus on his new company. NAPA will continue to execute on its strategy of acquiring underperforming mixed-use developments and repositioning them through modernizations, hospitality, retail leasing and its unique approach to event programming and property activations known as ExperienceMaking™.
“I’m honored to have spent the last 25 years of my career with North American Properties,” Toro said. “The NAPA team is best in class, and they will continue to do amazing things together. As the pandemic shifted the real estate landscape and capital flow, my decision became clear that now was the time to pursue new ground-up development opportunities.”
Under his leadership, NAPA acquired a distressed Atlantic Station in 2010 and “transformed the property without moving a brick, creating value through leasing, hospitality, and event programming.”
Toro and the NAPA team applied lessons learned at Atlantic Station to the ground-up development of Avalon in 2011. The team also recently completed the redevelopment of Colony Square, a plan that required demolishing a 50-year-old mall, breaking down the insular design, and creating new and inviting communal spaces that now host hundreds of events per year.