Photo: Thomas Bender/USA Today Network
Economic Backbone: Commercial Real Estate
Despite inflation and rising interest rates, Southwest Florida commercial real estate market expected to see growth
Scott Cietek, director of the commercial division at Sarasota’s Michael Saunders & Co, says inflation and rising interest rates are a concern, but he remains optimistic that the forces driving Southwest Florida’s commercial real estate market will continue to grow.
“I am still bullish,” he says.
Cietek says industrial/warehouse space is in high demand — especially with businesses looking to stockpile more inventory and transportation companies establishing last-mile distribution centers — but the retail sector is growing, too, right along with a rise in residential construction.
“The old adage that retail follows rooftops is so true,” he says. “Retailers are trying to create market share before the markets are filled with families.”
Also, with more people returning to work at an office rather than working remotely, Cietek expects office demand will rise this year in an already crowded market.
“Believe it or not,” he says, “office vacancy is sitting below 5% in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties and just 7% in Tampa/ St. Petersburg, which is incredible considering two years ago we never thought anyone would ever go back to the office.”
- Marriott Vacations Worldwide has topped out its 300,000-sq.-ft., nine-story headquarters, the largest commercial office building under construction in Orlando, which it plans to open in 2023. The timeshare giant (which employs 1,500 locally) will be the anchor tenant within the City Center of O-Town West, the $1 billion-plus project being developed near Disney by Orlando-based Unicorp. The O-Town West development will include restaurants, a day care, a gym and a market. The Marriott Vacations building will be certified by Fitwel (a healthy building certification system created in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and operated by the Center for Active Design) and will feature collaborative work and meeting space, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a fitness center, live green walls, natural light and more.
- Electronic Arts, the video game maker that employs about 1,000 in Central Florida, completed its move from Maitland to Orlando’s Creative Village on the west side of downtown. The company’s new 175,940-sq.-ft. building — the second new office building erected in Orlando since 2020 — is just a two-minute walk from UCF’s downtown campus, which houses the university’s graduate video game design school. As of March, about 50% of its employees were working at the new campus.
- Tavistock is constructing two new office buildings at the Lake Nona Town Center — a 68,390-sq.-ft., five-story building with ground floor retail and four upper levels of boutique class A office space that’s scheduled to open this summer and an eight-story, 278,917-sq.-ft. class A office building that’s slated to open in early 2023. Other projects in Tavistock’s pipeline include Simcom Aviation Training’s global headquarters and training facility, which will be complete this year; One Performance Plaza, a 152,784-sq.-ft. medical office tower across from Lake Nona’s Medical City that will open later this year; and a 205-room Aloft Hotel north of S.R. 417 on Lake Nona Boulevard that will open in 2023.