Flurry of warehouse development near turnpike includes FedEx facility

Developers plan more than 1 million square feet of warehouses for the industrial area between Southern Boulevard and Belvedere Road along Florida’s Turnpike, a building boom that reflects a return to normal for Palm Beach County’s commercial real estate market.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Duke Realty (NYSE: DRE) of Indianapolis plans 822,850 square feet at Belvedere and Jog roads along the turnpike. Palm Beach County developer McCraney Property Co. aims to build 388,000 square feet at its Turnpike Business Center.

FedEx (NYSE: FDX) expects to move into a 225,000-square-foot distribution center on Pike Road next year. And a couple miles east of the turnpike on Southern Boulevard, Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LPT) is marketing 218,160 square feet.

“It feels like 2004 all over again,” said Robert Smith, a broker at CBRE who markets Duke Realty’s Turnpike Crossing.

This boom looks unlikely to lead to bust, developers and brokers say, simply because so few warehouses have been built in recent years.

“For far too long, there was little to no activity,” said Steven McCraney, head of McCraney Property Co.

The result? Microscopic vacancy rates for warehouse space in Palm Beach County.

“We’re basically out of space,” said broker Michael Falk.

Falk says the vacancy rate for industrial space is 3 percent. Smith pegs it at 4 percent. Either way, there’s little space to accommodate distribution companies such as FedEx, or the construction-related companies that typically occupy Palm Beach County’s industrial buildings.

The flurry of new development “is much-needed,” Smith said. “I literally have lists of tenants who are looking for space and can’t find it.”

Even so, Duke Realty will take care not to build too quickly. The landlord has begun construction of two buildings at Turnpike Crossing but won’t build more until those warehouses are rented, Smith said.

Industrial tenants typically don’t sign leases until buildings have been built, but McCraney already has landed one tenant for Turnpike Business Center. Adrenalin Rush, an indoor go-kart track planned by a French entrepreneur, took 69,896 square feet.

As for FedEx, which has seen shipping volumes soar amid an explosion in online shopping, it aims to hire 190 workers at the new distribution center. FedEx said business is so brisk that it will keep its two other hubs in Palm Beach County.

The construction projects are in an unincorporated area west of West Palm Beach.

Bill Erbey: From millionaire to billionaire and back

012210 met ocwen 1.jpg

No former billionaire had a more precipitous drop in the past year than Bill Erbey, according to Forbes magazine. He had the steepest decline of any member of last year’s Forbes 400 list of richest Americans.

By my calculations, Erbey’s shares in Ocwen Financial Corp. and related mortgage companies were worth nearly $3 billion in late 2013. As of Thursday, that sum had shrunk to $382 million.

Erbey was forced out of Ocwen earlier this year, and the company was compelled to pay $100 million in a settlement with New York regulators.

A former Palm Beach resident who now lives in St. Croix, Erbey built Ocwen, a subprime mortgage servicer, into an international web of companies. Ocwen no longer is technically headquartered in West Palm Beach, but most of its top executives are here.

See how much Joe Philbin wants for his house

Joe Philbin (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Joe Philbin (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Former Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has put his Davie mansion on the market. He’s asking $2.5 million for the six-bedroom house at 2232 Phoenix Ave.

Philbin paid $1.78 million for the 7,850-square-foot property in 2012, according to property records.

The mansion features a wine room, a billiard/games room and a separate in-law suite, according to the listing on Realtor.com.

Philbin was 24-28 as a head coach for the Dolphins. He was fired in early October.

Get more details on the house from Realtor.com.

Florida loses population for the first time since 1946

fl_population081809A fast-growing state no longer, Florida lost population from 2008 to 2009, the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research says.

About 58,000 people left the state, leaving Florida with an estimated population of 18.7 million, said Stan Smith, head of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Smith blamed the twin banes of Florida’s economy: a soaring jobless rate and a hapless housing market.

For decades, Florida was adding jobs, which lured migrants. But the state has shed jobs in the past year, and the unemployment rate has soared from 3 percent in 2006 to 10.6 percent in June.

Meanwhile, the national housing downturn has made out-of-state migrants less likely to move here.

“When people can’t sell their homes, they tend not to move,” Smith said.

He doesn’t expect Florida to become a fast-growing state again in the near future.

“This is certainly the worst recession that the country has experienced since the Depression of the 1930s,” Smith said. “We’re not going to see much of a population rebound until the national economy strengthens significantly.”

UF’s full population report, with detailed estimates for counties and cities, is scheduled to be released Wednesday. Continue reading “Florida loses population for the first time since 1946”