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Positive signs in commercial real estate

Justin Beck, president of the family-owned, 31-year-old Beck Property, a major Pensacola full-service commercial real estate company, talked to Florida Trend about the commercial market’s recent positive signs.

Florida Trend: Your company plans to build an office building in downtown Pensacola, which hasn’t had a new office building in 25 years. What are signs this would be successful?

Justin Beck: We’ve been seeing for several months increased absorption and increased demand. There is another office building under construction, which, like ours, is also located in the Community Maritime Park; that building is being built by Quint Studer, the Maritime Park’s major investor, and will be purely offices. In our building, we’re doing mixed use, with retail on the first floor, our offices on the second and four units of high-level condominiums on the third. It will be about 21,000 square feet, cost about $3.5 million and be completed in late summer 2014.

FT: What do you see happening overall in the Pensacola commercial real estate market and the economy?

JB: Several areas are becoming very hot — the airport is one, and land around Navy Federal Credit Union on Nine Mile Road. The proposed auxiliary-area projects there aren’t huge by themselves, but together, there’s a lot of real good activity. There’s a tremendous amount of capital now that people finally feel comfortable about putting back in the real estate market. I don’t think we’re creating another bubble, but a sustainable economy.

FT: It appears possible that other northwest Florida commercial real estate developers are sharing your optimism. For example, there’s talk of a new shopping center in Crestview, a mega-development is being planned for the site of the former Panama City airport and a downtown project is about to launch in Fort Walton Beach. Do you see a trend here?

JB: Definitely. I think northwest Florida is one of the last places where you can develop fairly easily; there’s a great deal of land to develop, and it’s a great place to be.