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Downtown Orlando Downtown Orlando

ORLANDO—Orlando is having one of the best years in its economic development history. But is the end of this boom near? This was one of the topics of discussion at RealShare Central Florida on Wednesday. The Industry Leaders Roundtable featured experts tackling subjects ranging from the transitioning political regimes the art of incentives and today’s hot sectors and areas to watch. Robin Webb, principal and managing director at NAI Realvest moderated the panel, which included: Ken Kupp, a partner with Boyd Development Group; Steven Ogier, a principal at ContraVest Builders; Dave Porter, senior vice president of the Orlando Economic Development Corporation; and Stephen Mauldin, group president for the Real Estate Investment Fund for CNL Financial Group. We posted 67 prospects and announced 25 companies that have moved or expanded into the region,” Porter said. “The Orlando metro led the country in job growth among top 30 major metros last year. This year, we are at about 4.8% job growth, which still leads the country.” According to Porter, Orlando is seeing job growth across diverse sectors—and big wins. ADP, a Fortune 250 HR firm, recently leased 240,000 square feet of office space in Maitland for its regional headquarters. “Only 21% of our workforce is involved in tourism and hospitality,” Porter said. We continue to see a lot of growth in healthcare. From a high level, Orlando is a hot market right now. What’s driving that is talent. When I started out in this business, it was about location, location, location. Today it’s about talent, talent, talent. There are 500,000 students in this region. Lots of room to grow.” So where are we on the ticking clock that is the commercial real estate cycle? That depends on whom you ask, of course, but there is general agreement. If you’re an office guy in Houston, Maudlin said, it’s 12 a.m. He’s looking at other commercial real estate markets on a case by case basis. “It’s so much demand-driven,” he said. “I don’t think we are at the peak because GDP is not growing. So when you think about inflation and collapses like ‘08 and ’09 … it doesn’t feel like that because the lenders are smarter now. They are not doing 85% leverage like they did in ‘06 and ‘07. It’s different. It doesn’t feel like there’s massive oversupply on balance. There is in certain markets. There’s still some left to play otherwise we wouldn’t be trying to raise money and deploy it on behalf of investors.” Kupp told the RealShare audience his firm is “incredibly blessed” to be working in Orlando. He pointed to job growth as a key driver. What keeps him up at night are the factors he cannot control. “As developers we’re here to build,” Kupp said. “We are here for the long haul and think we will be successful here. What we are worried about is international events we can’t expect … when things hit the skids. It’s those macro events we’re concerned about. We think there’s plenty of room to run, save those kinds of events, especially here in Orlando. I can’t think of a better place to be a developer or investor in the real estate business.” Ogier’s final thoughts: Asset class and location is key. As he sees it, safely leveraged projects in good locations with a good job story and a good basis are strong. “I don’t think you can lose there, especially in the apartment piece,” Ogier said. “Everybody always needs a place to live. The biggest issue is parking. I see five to seven years to go in the apartment space.”

Jennifer LeClaire


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