This tourist destination city’s commercial real estate growth for the next 20 years is headed south and west, not north as the traditional development route usually dictates in most burgeoning metropolitan hubs.

That’s the carved-in-stone prediction of one of metro Orlando’s most knowledgeable development gurus, Frank W. Herring Jr., vice president and senior development officer of St. Joe Commercial.

The southwest corridor’s superior transportation systems and proximity to Orlando International Airport have lured an array of high-tech, transportation and manufacturing firms to the area. “Today, class A office space in an attractive corporate setting draws as many inquiries from telecommunications companies and software manufacturerers as hospitality and service firms,” Herring tells

Changing the playing field are several factors not present 30 years ago when Walt Disney World first came to town, notes Herring. Those factors are record job creation and expansion/development in the tourism corridor south and west of metro Orlando.

Natural barriers such as transportation are slowing down growth in the city’s northern corridors. Chronic over-crowding on Interstate 4, a problem since the late 1970s, is worsening. The St. John’s River Bridge particularly is “a formidable frontier daily commuters prefer not to cross,” says Herring. As a result, commercial development opportunities south of the bridge are dwindling.

The developer also notes population growth as a contributing factor to a slowdown in north development and a boost to the south and western parts of the city and surrounding suburbs. From 1990 to 1999, south Orlando’s population rose 2.6% versus 2.2% north of Colonial Drive. Household formation increased 2.53% in south Orlando compared to 2.16% in the north.

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