NAIOP: More jobs, business, sales and development in 2014

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A panel of five area real estate professionals, moderated by JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot, forecasted a strengthening economy for 2014 at a NAIOP event Thursday.

About 140 members and guests attended the market update and forecast at the Deerwood Country Club.

JAXUSA Partnership is the economic development division of the JAX Chamber.

Mallot started the discussion with an update: The city has made 24 economic-development project announcements this year that could create more than 3,760 jobs and result in a capital investment of more than $467 million.

Mallot referred to the 200 jobs that Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced this year, adding that it “could be five times that or bigger.”

Mallot said after the event that Bank of America Merrill Lynch has identified Jacksonville as a growth center and he considers it “highly likely” that the financial services giant could create 1,000 jobs here in the next three or four years.

Mallot also announced that Advent Software, a San Francisco-based company that bought Black Diamond Reporting in Jacksonville, wants to expand here and add 123 financial-services jobs and make a $735,000 capital investment in its Deerwood Park offices.

Advent is seeking $1.3 million in city and state incentives.

The Daily Record reported the project Thursday.

Mallot said the chamber currently is working with 19 manufacturing prospects, 14 office-commercial prospects and 12 warehouse-distribution prospects.

He said the recent trip to London, where the Jacksonville Jaguars played and city and business leaders courted prospects, will result in new jobs for the area.

Five panelists provided brief updates about specific real estate areas:

• Development — Alex Coley, NAI Hallmark Partners: The St. Johns Town Center area, East San Marco and Brooklyn are sites for retail development; multifamily projects are underway at the Town Center and in Brooklyn; but “don’t expect a lot of speculative office” development.

• Office sales and leasing — Victor Hughes, Parkway Properties Inc.: Financial services, health care and technology companies are the strongest office users; Parkway’s 1.46 million square feet of office space among five Southbank, Riverside and Deerwood Park properties are 94 percent occupied. “Parkway is really bullish on Jacksonville,” he said, adding the organization is “talking to different owners about expanding our footprint.”

• Workspace trends –– Rich Isphording, Steelcase: Outlined “macro trends” in workspaces, in general, involve the efficient use of space that allows employees and associates to work together, effectively uses technology and offers a comfortable environment. Among those trends is what he called “varieties of posture,” as in 90 minutes is the limit before a person has to “change gears” and refocus.

• Industrial sales/leasing –– John Richardson of Newmark Grubb Phoenix Realty Group: Investors are buying buildings to lease out and businesses are buying properties to use. He sees local companies expanding and he also says there are more distribution deals. He predicts a good first half of 2014.

• Investment sales — Bob Selton, Colliers International Northeast Florida: Jacksonville is a “tertiary market,” not a “Tier 1” market, for real estate investors. However, with quality investment properties becoming more difficult to find in the top tier markets, Jacksonville is attracting more investors. Selton said Jacksonville properties are being sold or are for sale, including the Liberty Property Trust holdings, the Aetna Building, Wells Fargo Center and “there’s more to be announced.” For 2014, he said “if you have a good product, you can sell it.”

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