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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 9 months ago

Profile: Brian Stock

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CEO, Stock Development, Naples
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

Brian Stock is the CEO of Stock Development, a firm that traces its homebuilding roots back seven decades.

Begun as a development firm, Stock has expanded over the past 16 years in Florida into a homebuilder and into other residential-related businesses. In all, Stock has constructed more than 4,500 luxury homes from Naples to Lakewood Ranch. Most recently, Stock has expanded into commercial and multifamily development. The company has been recognized by Builder Magazine as one of the nation's Top 100 U.S. homebuilders, and as Collier County Builder of the Year, in 2013.

Stock is among the most prolific upscale homebuilders from Lakewood Ranch to Naples. How do you view the residential market in the areas the company concentrates in?

I'd say things are pretty healthy. Obviously we've recently had an unfortunate situation with Hurricane Irma in Southwest Florida, but everything, for the most part, has been cleaned up now and that occurred pretty quickly, which I think shows the resiliency of these markets.

I'm pleasantly surprised by how quickly things have come back, given the devastation in certain areas. So I see the markets we operate in being healthy through season this winter and throughout all of next year. We've had the benefit of gradual growth while, really, there's been very little new supply. The biggest challenge we've faced has been in the labor market, but all the indicators in terms of sales point to 2018 as being good and healthy. Consumer confidence remains high, the stock market remains up.

Does Stock have any plans to branch out geographically into other markets around Florida?

From our home base in Naples, we continue to evolve, in Wellington and Palm Beach. But most recently, we've also expanded product lines. We've been focused on the custom side of our business, which develops homes priced at $3 million and above, whereas our Stock Signature line builds homes from $750,000 to $2 million. But geographically, we tend to look for areas that are easily accessible from Naples. To get to Sarasota takes roughly an hour and a half; Wellington is about two hours away. As we grow organically, we're finding it's easiest to go either up the West Coast or across the state to the East Coast and up. We look primarily for neighborhoods and communities and affluent places that are already well established. The one notable exception is we're also building in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but that's because we have a relationship with another builder.

What's the status of the Inspira apartments?

It's under construction, and we anticipate the first of the 304 units there will be completed in June 2018, or at the outside by the end of the second quarter. We plan to own and hold that upon completion. We are also working on an as-yet unnamed 300-unit apartment project at I-75 and Fruitville Road. That site has really good accessibility to the highway and it's a terrific location just south of Lakewood Ranch.

What's the status of the planned One Naples condo tower, for which Stock spent $19.7 million this summer to acquire waterfront land in Naples?

We're working right now with residents who live nearby, and we plan to take this season to continue to work closely with them to refine plans. We want to make sure we design a project that best meets the needs of the area. Discussions continue to evolve, and at present we don't have a start date, because we're focused on making sure we have the best fit for the community and the neighbors.

What's the status of Stock Plaza commercial development in Collier County?

We have a core group of tenants there now. NCH, for instance, took one third of the project. We'll have five buildings there, totaling 65,0000 square feet of leasable space overall, and I think we now have 58,000 square feet committed. The last two buildings will start construction by end of this quarter. The NCH building is under construction.

The company seems to be transitioning somewhat toward more multifamily, commercial and urban development. Why?

I think we've primarily been focused, on the commercial side, to adding value to our residential projects, such as Lely Resort. The idea is to make them more fully integrated communities. Outback Steakhouse and Hobby Lobby have gone there, and another developer is going to build a hotel, as well. So it's a natural transition as we see it. We're not aggressively going out seeking to acquire new commercial property.

The one possible exception is we're aggressively looking for apartment sites where we can establish a positive, luxury brand that emphasizes lifestyle. In our Inspira project, for instance, all of the units will have wine coolers in them. But the apartment push is mainly a mechanism for diversification.

How much of an impact have hikes in commodities been on your home prices?

That's really yet to be determined. Some vendors, such as roofers and landscapers, have discussed increases, because they're the most challenged. Overall, I'd say labor has had and is having the biggest impact. The trades have so many demands on them now, so it's critical that they be on the most efficient work cycle possible. The main thing, I think, is consistency. I see that as a bigger challenge than commodity increases at present.

What's the future for Stock, say over the next 24 to 36 months?

I think we'll see a lot more of the same. I'm optimistic about the next 24 to 36 months. Economically speaking — provided we don't have something truly unforeseen happen — I think we'll have good, healthy markets going forward. We're working on new homes in the Lake Club (in Lakewood Ranch), and on acquiring more sites for the rental side of our business. I see healthy markets ahead through at least 2019.

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