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BROWARD COUNTY, FL-Characterized by decreasing vacancy rates and rising rental rates, the county retail market is “strong and getting stronger,” as one local broker says.The Broward retail vacancy rate has dropped to 5.6%, compared with 7.4% in the third quarter of last year, and rental rates have increased due to strong demand for retail services, according to a new report by CB Richard Ellis. The average asking lease rate is $16.53 per sf NNN, the report shows. The Southwest Broward submarket saw the highest average rental rate, $19.96 per sf.The area also is seeing more redevelopment occurring and the trend of vertical development moving north from Miami-Dade County with available land becoming scarce. Also, newer shopping formats, such as power strip centers, are replacing older shopping centers. “As a whole, developers and retailers will continue to profit by successfully balancing consumer demands with the supply of available land,” the report says.Gregory Masin, director of retail services for Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc., notes: “I see the market as strong and getting stronger. You have continued barriers of entry, one being the lack of available land in established retail corridors. Another is the increased migration and population to this very desirable sector. The verticality is growing, as is the density to live and thus to shop in this corridor.”Despite the scarcity of land, retailers are finding pockets where they can open stores, he says. “Retailers themselves are continuing to find they can do more business, not less, in multiple areas of South Florida,” he says. “The longer that they are in the market, they come to realize there are numerous pockets of infill store opportunities that they did not realize when they first arrived.”In conjunction with the scarcity of land and the demand to build large box locations, retailers such as those in the drug, bank and food sectors are all vying for the same end cap space parcel and prime tract of land,” Masin says.Overall, in the next one to two quarters, the retail market in South Florida is expected to experience increased demand for space, likely to spur redevelopment. Retailers will be trying to meet the demand brought by the increased population. Rental rates are expected to continue to rise, while vacancy rates stay about the same or drop slightly, according to the CBRE report.

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