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Fort Lauderdale’s Time Has Come

January 6, 2015

The Wall Street Journal ran a feature on Fort Lauderdale in a recent Property Report and wasted little time comparing the Broward County city to a city nearby that is better known internationally.

Here is the second paragraph: “The city (Fort Lauderdale) has long been viewed as a stepsister to its flashier neighbor 30 miles south, Coral Gables.”

Just kidding about Coral Gambles, but we love that community as much as Miami, and not just because we do South Florida real estate deals in both places!

The WSJ story centered on the recent acquisition of New River Center, and Stiles Corporation’s $108 million purchase of the 20-story office tower the local developer did with Prudential Real Estate Investors (the seller was Invesco Ltd.). The deal capped the best investment year in downtown Fort Lauderdale since 2007.

“For the first three quarters of 2014, office property deals totaled $302.9 million, compared with $299.6 million for all of 2007, according to CBRE Research and Real Capital Analytics,” the WSJ reported.

Well you know how we feel about comparisons to 2007. It’s like saying “Hurricane XXXX is nearing the coast of Florida and landfall is expected by morning.” Fill in the blank, but how come so many hurricanes have names like Russian Ballerinas, or the Bad Guy in a B-rated horror flick?

The article referenced Fort Lauderdale’s low unemployment rate (4.8% in November), and the wonderful stat that 27 suburban tenants have moved to downtown Fort Lauderdale since 2011, occupying some 446,000 square feet of space in so doing (source: CBRE, but we did a couple of those deals and identified the trend as early as the first half of 2013). Along the way, the office vacancy rate in the downtown has plummeted to 13.2% now from 21.7% at the end of the third quarter 2012.

For people like us in the office brokerage business, those are chest-thumping numbers!

Skipping by the part of the article that discussed the booming residential development in the downtown, the story noted that eight hotel properties opened in Broward County in 2014 and another six are on the way, in part driven by a record 14 million visitors to the county in 2014 (source: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau).

You can’t necessarily complain about the increase in traffic while trying to make a living in businesses that benefit from population and economic growth, though a little whine with your cheese is acceptable.

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