MIAMI—As Florida's economy recovers, theindustrial market is improving even faster, drivenby foreign trade and investor confidence. Vacancy rates aredropping, tenants are arriving, and developers are delivering specand pre-lease space at a rate not seen in a number of years.

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So says Steven McCraney, CEO ofMcCraney Property. McCraney has his finger on thepulse of the market. His company is developing a new warehouse/distribution projectin Palm Beach County. The speculative building is the first newconstruction at the park in five years.

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Bent Oak Industrial, LLC, a wholly owned entityof McCraney, recently purchased Lots 3, 4 and 5 at the BentOak development in Orlando for $7.41 million. McCraney will buildspeculative class A distribution warehousing on the 38.7-acreindustrial property.

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McCraney also points to numbers that tell a story: More than 2.8million square feet was delivered statewide, more than twice thevolume delivered in 2012, according to CBRE. 2013was the first year since the recession in which almost everyregional market recorded substantial statewide rent growth. Theoverall total vacancy rate for the state ended the year at 8.3%,down 90 basis points from 2012. And, he says, builders expect todeliver approximately 4 million square feet this year.

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“The industrial market is rebounding basedlargely on local economics,” McCraney tells GlobeSt.com. “Whilemuch of the state suffered through the recession, Miami-Dade Countybarely noticed the downturn due to strong international trade.”

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As a result, the total vacancy rate in the county was just 4.8%at the end of last year, according to CBRE. Rents in South Floridaincreased 35% year-over-year to $7.71 per square foot at the end of2013.

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“The gains are even more remarkable given the collapse of thecondominium market and that the county's unemployment rate soaredto 13.3% in August 2010,” McCraney says. “That number has plummetedto about half that—6.6% in April of this year.”

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As McCraney sees it, Miami is poised for explosive growth due tothe opening on May 19 of the Port of Miami tunnel, which givestrucks direct access from the port to Interstate 95. The port haserected four Super Panamax cranes to serve a newclass of super-sized container ships that will pass through thePanama Canal once it is widened and deepened.

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“The market is already gearing up for the increased cargotraffic,” McCraney says. “Builders delivered more than 1.6 millionsquare feet in 2013, and 2.9 million square feet is scheduled tocome on the market this year.”

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Be sure to come back this afternoon for part two of thisarticle in the Miami edition. McCraney will explore the rest ofFlorida's industrial market.

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