When it comes to development north of Miami-Dade County, analysts say transportation is one of the biggest factors fueling real estate investment in 2015.
New airport infrastructure, highway refurbishments, seaport expansion and a focus on transit-oriented housing point to new development that connect homes to job centers, attract millennials and bode well for live-work-play centers.
In Broward County, hundreds of millions in federal and state aid is expanding I-95 and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. In-migration reached pre-recession levels, ratcheting up the county’s apartment inventory to keep pace with demand in cities like Fort Lauderdale, Miramar and Pompano Beach.
“All that infrastructure going north is in place for the next 20 years, and that’s good news for development,” said Reese Stigliano, senior vice president of Brenner Real Estate Group in Fort Lauderdale. “You’ll start seeing a lot more expansion from Broward to Palm Beach.”
In April, the Florida Department of Transportation is set to put the finishing touches on a four-year, $112 million project to extend the I-95 express lanes north from Miami Gardens Drive to Broward Boulevard. The work is expected to improve traffic flow on a highway that carries more than 230,000 vehicles daily in south Broward. For real estate, it means improved transportation options for industrial clients and quicker commutes.
The year also could mark the start of work on Florida East Coast Railway’s proposed high-speed rail from Miami to Orlando, with 60,000-square-foot stations planned in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, 1,400 rail-line construction jobs in the two counties and $653 million in federal, state and local government tax revenue through 2021.
“People are excited about transit-oriented development. They’re making decisions in anticipation that they’re going to be able to get around the city of Fort Lauderdale without a car,” said Kenneth Krasnow, CBRE managing director for Broward and Palm Beach counties. “The demand clearly has that factored in.”
Developers like The Related Group are aggressively pushing northward, investing nearly $200 million in luxury projects like the New River Yacht Club near downtown Fort Lauderdale. Drawn by a strengthening job outlook, they’re betting points north of Miami-Dade will blossom as housing strongholds.
In the next year, the Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area will add 25,000 jobs as employers expand payrolls 3.2 percent, according to a new real estate investment report from Marcus & Millichap Research Services. And the new jobs will bring high earners to the area, with 5,900 new positions in professional and business services.
“The outlook for 2015 and ’16 is definitely very positive,” Krasnow said. “We’re seeing organic growth in business, companies are expanding, tourism is up, hotels are trading and upgrading. It’s all related.”
The interconnectivity fuels business for brokers like Fite Shavell & Associates‘ Jack Elkins, who handled $155 million in luxury residential transactions last year as Palm Beach County cities moved to attract financial services firms. In Boca Raton, an influx of affluent tenants will mean demand for top-tier offices as well as the most plush business settings as buyers compete to outdo each other in the historically Class A market.
Investors like Crocker Partners, which paid $81 million for One Town Center and The Plaza last December, plan broad capital outlays to bring their new holdings to top-tier status.
“Boca has been a Class A market for years,” Krasnow said. “But like anything else it still needs to be reinvented to keep up with the ultra high-end users.”