December 2017 Innovate

Building a Legacy: Trimark Properties Celebrates 25 Years in Gainesville

Written By: By Genevieve Howard, Marketing Coordinator, Trimark Properties

Trimark Leasing Office

2017 marked several milestones for local real estate developer Trimark Properties. The company broke ground on two major projects: its second luxury office building in Innovation Square, Ingenuity, as well as Cascades, a luxury apartment complex for University of Florida students. Most importantly, the year marked Trimark’s 25th anniversary as a real estate powerhouse in Gainesville.

 Beginning modestly with the acquisition of just one multifamily property in 1992, the company’s portfolio has since expanded to over 26 apartment complexes, two private luxury residence halls, a series of 30 charming, renovated historic houses and dozens of elite commercial real estate buildings. The firm played a significant role in the rejuvenation of the area between downtown Gainesville and the University of Florida campus and has been awarded 32 City Beautification Awards for its commitment to improving the city’s urban landscape.

“Since the beginning, we, as partners, wanted to fully commit to Gainesville’s urban core – not just build one or two projects, but to reimagine every aspect and dedicate ourselves to constantly improving the area,” said Trimark Properties’ current Managing Partner, John Fleming. “Pride of ownership and the desire to see Gainesville advance drives this commitment. It has never been a financial ‘numbers game,’ but a true determination to help improve the city for all citizens.”

Ingenuity, a luxury office building in Innovation Square

Breaking Out of the Comfort Zone     

From 1993 to 2001, the company mainly focused on acquiring land and older multifamily communities near Sorority Row and the University of Florida campus.

2002 was a game-changing year for Trimark as it built its first original development, Royale Palms Luxury Apartments, off of SW 7th Avenue next to Sorority Row. In contrast to the older, more humble buildings the company was used to working with, this project was designed to provide an upscale living experience for students while also sprucing up the curb appeal of the area.

“At that time there was a lack of new luxury apartment complexes targeted towards the student market in the area surrounding campus,” said Fleming, who has been with the company since 1993 and played an instrumental role in its growth. “There was a market for students who wanted to live within walking distance of classes in the Southwest area, especially the young women involved in Greek life who wanted to live in close proximity to their sorority houses.”

Office spaces available at Innovation Square.

The property was a favorable business venture with the student clientele who were eager to live in a more upscale environment close to campus, and Trimark decided to continue to design and build new luxury student apartments near UF in the same neighborhood. Over the course of the next 15 years, the company built 15 additional luxury student multifamily properties in the land surrounding Sorority Row. Upon the completion of Cascades in July of 2018, it will have constructed a total of 17.

The team’s fundamental goal was to enhance the urban landscape of the district. They did this by focusing intensely on the architecture of each building and carefully planning the exterior to ensure the buildings fit seamlessly with the surrounding existing landscape. An in-house development department of designers and project managers was added to the organization to spearhead each endeavor.

Instead of the traditional, cookie-cutter student housing communities pushing 600 units that are so often developed in college towns, the firm built smaller, unique properties with eye-catching facades. Each of the new complexes were boutique-style, meaning they were quiet, luxurious communities exhibiting one-of-a-kind designs. Every project had a theme that was portrayed through the building’s architecture and interior features, with the company channeling design influences from all over the world.

The SharpSpring building

In addition to their striking exteriors, Trimark’s properties often include lavish interior elements, such as granite countertops, porcelain-tiled floors and showers, extra-large balconies and crown molding. All of the properties are impeccably landscaped, often mirroring the design themes of the building itself. The company formed its own separate landscaping company, Urban Greenscapes, in 2015 to ensure that their passion and attention to detail was present during every step of the process. Urban Greenscapes brought a new level of meticulous dedication to the properties’ manicured courtyards and formal lawns.

The team was passionate about developing each community, and that devotion to detail is clearly evident when you drive by the properties. It was a different way of approaching student housing, but it worked. The projects were always fruitful, though the development and the upkeep were expensive, and the company has continued to lease its apartments to capacity each season.

Portfolio Diversification

While Trimark’s multifamily division was taking center stage throughout the 2000s, the company was quietly acquiring land and commercial real estate in Gainesville, mostly in the area now known as Innovation Square, beginning in 2000. Though the company holds a distinguished portfolio of office, lab and retail space around downtown and campus now, its commercial real estate division didn’t begin to flourish until the late 2000s.

In 1993, Trimark acquired its first commercial space, which is now the business’s current headquarters. In 2000, the company purchased Pete’s Gym off of SW 2nd Avenue, which would later become the site of the Nimbus office building, as well as the Carmichael House, a 1940s historic house which would be the first of many historic houses the company would renovate and rent out to students.

“It has always been our goal to link UF to downtown, and we knew these sites could eventually be converted into developments that would positively transform the Innovation Square region,” said Fleming.

Nimbus office space

It was around this time when UF decided that the area between downtown and campus needed a considerable revitalization. UF Health sold the hospital in 2009, and soon after began working to redevelop the district into a research park that provided upscale office and lab space for up-and-coming companies.

“When student housing became overbuilt in Gainesville, we began looking at the potential of renovating some of the former medical offices we had acquired and positioning them for rental to start-ups, tech companies and others that were interested in being in or around Innovation Square,” said Phil Wagner, Trimark’s Operating Partner who joined the company in 2004.

“Once we did a few of these renovations and found there was a market for the product, we began to focus on those opportunities and later on the idea of doing newer and larger buildings,” commented Wagner. “These renovations were the preface to our growth into developments like Nimbus and Ingenuity.”

After a series of extensive commercial renovations, the company decided to build Nimbus, a two-story, 15,000-square-foot luxury office building on the site where Pete’s Gym formerly stood. The development proved that the company could successfully compete on the commercial real estate front, and also helped to cement Innovation Square’s reputation as the city’s quickest-growing premier business hub.

Trimark’s various commercial office buildings have hosted a variety of up-and-coming tech tenants, such as Feathr, SharpSpring and Fracture. Their designs are all strikingly modern, featuring elements such as floor-to-ceiling windows, metal geometric accents, glass-walled offices and exposed ceiling duct work. With the completion of the 50,000-square-foot Ingenuity building in January of 2018, this number will increase to almost 165,000 square feet.

The Future of Trimark Properties

Over the next several years, Trimark Properties plans to continue to develop its land around Innovation Square, bringing more positive changes to the area and successfully connecting two vital regions of the city.

While the development in and around Innovation Square has mostly included office buildings and student apartment communities up until now, the University of Florida’s One Gainesville Strategic Development Plan, established by the University, has laid out the framework for a proposal which will urbanize the region even further. The plan’s agenda is to turn Gainesville into a “New American City,” and one of the key aspects in reaching this goal is better connecting the university with downtown.

“In order to create a cohesive neighborhood, the area needs more than just student housing,” said Fleming. “It is vital that office, research, retail, restaurant and professional housing all be added to create a complete neighborhood. We also concentrate on parks, parking, accessibility routes, utilities and other vital components necessary to turn this area into the most desired part of the city.”

Nimbus conference room

For the remainder of this groundbreaking year, Fleming says the company will focus on celebrating the hard work and efforts of everyone who helped the company become what it is today, and will eagerly look forward to see how Innovation Square will continue to advance.

“We are starting to see our vision come to fruition, connecting downtown to the University of Florida. Once separated by far more than just the actual distance between them, the area is becoming more alive every day. Continued infill will turn this entire area into a true ‘work, live, play’ environment with 24/7 activity.  Trimark Properties has been tremendously blessed to have been part of this transformational process and we can’t wait to see what another 25 years brings.”   


Photography Provided by Trimark Properties.


GENEVIEVE HOWARD is the marketing coordinator at local real estate firm Trimark Properties. A 2016 graduate from the University of Florida’s Heavener School of Business and devoted Florida Gator fan, she is passionate about her career that allows her to blend her love for communications, marketing, real estate and history.

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