May 20, 2022

People and Projects

Industrial Strength

Richard Westlund | 11/1/2007

Ron Bergeron at his 300-acre Broward County industrial park.

Starting with just a few dollars and a used tractor, south Florida native Ron Bergeron launched Bergeron Properties & Investment in 1963. After purchasing agricultural parcels through the 1970s, he won zoning for a new industrial park in Pembroke Pines in the far southwest of Broward County.

Today, the 300-acre Bergeron Park of Commerce is one of the only sites left in Broward with zoning for outdoor storage and heavy industrial uses. About two-thirds of the park is occupied.

In many Florida communities, industrial real estate is the least glamorous type of development. Developers prefer office, retail or residential projects because they command higher rents or sale prices. In fact, Bergeron himself sold off 160 acres of industrial land for residential uses during the boom years of the early 2000s.

But a growing population needs things like waste disposal facilities and truck and maintenance repair and storage. “Industrial land creates job opportunities and economic growth within our communities,” says Bergeron, 63. “And unlike other uses, it doesn’t lend itself to redevelopment.”

The story is similar around the state, where local governments are increasingly hesitant to allow new industrial uses even as demand keeps growing for warehouses, manufacturing and distribution centers.

Vacancy rates in most major markets are in the 4% to 6% range, according to real estate services firm CB Richard

Ellis. Overall, Florida’s major industrial real estate markets are commanding some of the highest rents in the country. According to a second-quarter survey by Colliers International, West Palm Beach ranked third among major U.S. markets, and Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa were above the national average.

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