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ORLANDO-North Seminole County is where the action will be for new commercial real estate development over the next decade, predicts one of the area’s foremost industry sages, George D. Livingston Jr., president of Realvest Partners Inc.

“Growth in commercial real estate is influenced by three major and interconnected forces,” he tells GlobeSt.com. Those elements are “the momentum of the market, the quality of local transportation infrastructure and the amount and availability of land suitable for development.”

Affluent Seminole County, Orlando’s neighbor, has those forces in spades. Livingston tells GlobeSt.com of three potentially-hot corridors ready to bloom and take off over the next 10 years. They are:

–State Road 46 east, from Interstate 4 to US 17-92. Watch for an industrial development surge here.

–Concurrent development will follow along Upsala Road, north of State Road 46, near US 17-92 and the Interstate 4 interchange.

–Particularly heavy demand for business park flex space will come along the Interstate 4 corridor, north across the St. Johns River into Volusia County as well.

“The best transportation system and the strongest commercial growth momentum are nothing without available land,” points out Livingston. “And that’s where Seminole County scores highest of all.”

Major projects in the Lake Mary Boulevard area comprise 19 office buildings totaling 1.7 million sf of rentable space.

The Lake Mary city area, ranked among the most promising commercial development hubs in Florida, has a current vacancy rate of 8.65%, “well under 10% that serves as a red flag to investors,” the developer says.

Maitland Center to the south, a rival submarket, has 3.5 million sf. “But Maitland is all but built out,” notes Livingston. “Future growth in that submarket will come at a high price and likely years in the future, when less expensive opportunities have been developed.”

The developer says, “Even at our current robust pace, it would take three to five years to absorb the (available) space currently at Maitland Center.”

National developers are keenly aware of North Seminole County’s potential, Livingston says. For example, Highwoods Properties Inc. plans shortly to open Timacuan Office Park on Rinehart Road. Webb International is developing flex space at Rinehart Ridge. Duke-Weeks Realty Corp. is seeing strong market demand for its flex space at Technology Park.

Crescent Resources Inc. is taking over and enhancing the initial development plans at Primera, a 600-acre park north Lake Mary Boulevard and east of Interstate 4. And Realvest Partners Inc. is trying to meet demand at its Lake Mary Business Center.

“The (North Seminole County) market is so healthy that tenants frequently make themselves available for spec-built facilities as soon as they are completed,” says Livingston. For example, Veritas Software recently took 90,000 sf at Heathrow and American International Group leased 85,000 sf at Rinehart Ridge.

Livingston has been spotting new area development trends for decades. He and his family have been Central Florida landowners for 80 years. But Livingston gives the bulk of the credit for North Seminole County’s exposure to the development community to visionaries Jeno F. Paulucci, the frozen food entrepreneur from Sanford, FL, and Ronald A. Pizzuti, president of Columbus, OH-based Pizzuti Cos.

“When Paulucci announced plans for Heathrow (in the 1980s), North Seminole County existed on the far outer perimeter of the Central Florida metro area,” recalls Livingston.

In the 1990s, Pizzuti’s efforts at Heathrow International Business Center “inspred a new generation of commercial and industrial development in the area; reawakened commercial development interests; and sparked a sustained period of commercial growth,” says Livingston.

His RealVest Partners is currently developing 1.5 million sf of high-tech office and flex space in Orlando and Tampa.

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