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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jul. 28, 2006 12 years ago

Coffee Talk

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Project still has marquee billing: Not everyone is pulling out of the residential market.Market Slowdown?: Morrison Homes sales associate Virginia Arnold apparently hasn't heard about the residential slowdown that is making many agents and Realtors anxious.Chamber cheerleaders spice things up: Who says business chamber affairs are dull?Condo towers' premiere delayed: Plans to build a pair of 16-story condo towers on a parking lot behind the Hollywood 20 movie theater and Main Plaza, at U.S. 301 and Fruitville Road in Sarasota, are being revised.Tampa office market feeling good: The old economic stand-by of supply and demand is at the heart of what one Tampa-based commercial real estate executive calls the "start of another boom" in the Tampa office market.Michael Saunders & Co. Inman finalist: Michael Saunders & Co., the dominant real estate firm in Sarasota and one of the most well-known statewide, recently received a little national attention: The firm was named a finalist for Inman News' Innovator Award.What do you think?: Floridians are inundating Gov. Jeb Bush with requests to deal with the state's property insurance crisis.Fewer Foreclosures: Florida foreclosure rates dropped 12% in the second quarter of this year over the same period in 2005.

Coffee Talk

+ Project still has marquee billing

Not everyone is pulling out of the residential market.

Developer Sam Hamad of Enterprises Associates is moving ahead with the Marquee on the Bay in downtown Sarasota. He's sent a letter to the sole remaining tenant in the office/retail building at 1301 Main St. and plans to demolish the building shortly after that tenant leaves at the end of August.

As for development of the 15-unit condominium development, Hamad says that he most likely still needs one or two new unit sales before he will be able to get bank financing for the vertical construction. He currently has three contracts for the smaller 1,250-square foot units and three of the 12 $4-million 5,000-square-foot units.

He's tagged a start date of late fall to early winter, to coincide with the 2007 Season.

"There are a lot of projects that are cashing out or being put on hold but we're moving forward," Hamad tells Coffee Talk. "I think the difference is that we have one of the best locations in town at Main and Gulfstream, right in the heart of the city."

+ Market Slowdown?

Morrison Homes sales associate Virginia Arnold apparently hasn't heard about the residential slowdown that is making many agents and Realtors anxious.

Arnold sold an eye-popping 45 townhomes at Tampa's Amberly Oaks subdivision on Dale Mabry Highway in the first six months of 2006, for a total of $9.9 million. She sold seven or more homes, with the average price of $220,000, each month for six months.

At 3% commission, Arnold made $297,000.

No surprise, she was named the company's top broker nationwide for the six-month period. Hats off to Arnold.

+ Chamber cheerleaders

spice things up

Who says business chamber affairs are dull?

A recent luncheon at the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce got everyone's hearts beating a little faster with a bevy of Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders in full regalia. Everyone got signed autographs to take to their bosses.

The lunch was punctuated by a song-and-dance routine by chamber members singing the famous Aretha Franklin song "Respect." The lyrics to the first verse:

Hooo, what you want?

Hooo, the chamber's got it.

Hooo, what you need.

Hooo, All we're askin'.

Is for your membership, when you come to town.

When you come to town.

When you come to town.

When you come to town.

"You wouldn't see this at the Naples chamber," one member quipped.

+ Condo towers' premiere delayed

Plans to build a pair of 16-story condo towers on a parking lot behind the Hollywood 20 movie theater and Main Plaza, at U.S. 301 and Fruitville Road in Sarasota, are being revised.

"The condominium portion has obviously changed," says Wayne Ruben of Ruben Holland Development, which is part of the ownership group that includes Sarasota attorney David Band. "We're looking at developing it as a hotel."

Next up for Ruben Holland is the start of the Shoppes at Laurel Square a 42,000-square-foot retail center on Laurel Road near Interstate 75.

+ Tampa office market feeling good

The old economic stand-by of supply and demand is at the heart of what one Tampa-based commercial real estate executive calls the "start of another boom" in the Tampa office market. Anne-Marie Ayers, a vice president and office specialist for CB Richard Ellis in Tampa, says more than two million square feet were absorbed in 2005, almost four times as much as the 592,715 square feet absorbed in 2004.

In CB Richard Ellis' 2005 year-end report, Ayers reported that steady job growth and low unemployment levels were catalysts to the boom. But she says the key was "pure and simple economics: when the supply of space decreases and demand increases, you're going to have rent growth."

Hot areas, such as Westshore and Tampa's central business district, saw an increase in lease rates and a decrease in vacancy rates. And the prices reflect the demand, as the average asking lease rate in Westshore in the fourth quarter last year was $23.73 per square foot; in the central business district it was $20.76 per square foot.

Those are some of the more expensive offices in the Tampa area. The average asking rate for the entire market in 2005 was $17.72 a square-foot, according to the CB Richard Ellis report.

+ Michael Saunders & Co. Inman finalist

Michael Saunders & Co., the dominant real estate firm in Sarasota and one of the most well-known statewide, recently received a little national attention: The firm was named a finalist for Inman News' Innovator Award.

"Michael is one of the most innovative marketers in the real estate business," says Inman. "What sets her apart is her sophisticated use of new technologies such as video to reach buyers and sellers."

Alas, the firm did not win the award. It was one of six finalists in the category of Most Innovative Brokerage. Other nominees were Alain Panel Realtors, Weather Realtors, RE/MAX International, Interco Real Estate and Chase International. The winner was RE/MAX International.

The award recognizes companies who have demonstrated innovation through the use of technology or the Internet that enhances the real estate transaction for consumers, positively impacts the industry and redefines key business models within the market.

+ What do you think?

Floridians are inundating Gov. Jeb Bush with requests to deal with the state's property insurance crisis. He will soon appoint members to the newly created Property and Casualty Insurance Reform Committee that will study the problem.

Those appointed from the Gulf Coast are Lee Arnold, founder and chief executive officer with Colliers Arnold International, Clearwater; and A.D. "Sandy" MacKinnon, chief executive officer and owner, Yale Lift Trucks, Tampa.

Depending on the committee's recommendations, the governor might call a special session later this year.

Coffee Talk wonders what Gulf Coast business people think the solution is to spiraling insurance costs?

Send letters to Managing Editor Mark Gordon, 1517 State St., Suite 300, Sarasota, Fl., 34236, or by e-mail at [email protected].

Trend

+ Fewer Foreclosures

Florida foreclosure rates dropped 12% in the second quarter of this year over the same period in 2005. On the Gulf Coast, the largest quarterly drop in rates was in Charlotte and Lee counties, followed by Collier, Pinellas and Sarasota.

In Charlotte, there were only 105 foreclosures, an 84% drop from the second quarter of 2005, when there were 665. The recent second-quarter rate dropped 70% to 420 foreclosures in Lee County, as compared to the same period in 2005.

Rick Sharga, a marketing vice president with RealtyTrac, says Lee saw a 333% increase in foreclosures between the first and second quarters of this year, but the jump shouldn't be cause for concern. Lee foreclosures were just remarkably low in the first quarter of this year.

Foreclosures

County Population 2Q '05 2Q '06 Change

Charlotte 141,627 665 105 (84%)

Collier 118,085 378 161 (57%)

Hillsborough 998,948 2,276 1,770 (22%)

Lee 440,888 1,398 420 (70%)

Manatee 264,002 357 349 (2%)

Pasco 344,765 897 780 (13%)

Pinellas 921,482 1,653 992 (40%)

Sarasota 325,957 498 300 (40%)

Florida 15,982,378 29,448 25,853 (12%)

Source: RealtyTrac

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