- March 6, 2015
You may have read that Michael Carr Sr. is retiring.
Not so fast.
Carr Sr., who has been a fixture in the commercial real estate business in Naples for more than three decades, isn't leaving Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT.
“I'm good for another five to 10 years, so watch out,” he says, digging into a healthy salad topped with grilled chicken at Shula's Steak House, his favorite business lunch spot inside the Naples Hilton.
Carr's son, Michael Carr Jr., is taking over the management of Coldwell Banker Commercial's Southwest Florida office and its staff of 18 people. Carr Jr. has worked alongside his father at Coldwell Banker Commercial since 1989, when he left the New York City advertising world and started selling and leasing retail and office buildings in Naples.
Carr Sr. says he'll continue selling and leasing industrial space as he's always done. “I could sell forever,” he says. “I'm not leaving the business.”
Carr Jr. says Coldwell Banker Commercial's ambition is to boost its presence in Lee County, where it closed an office during the real estate downturn. “We're already in South Lee, but we need to get back into Fort Myers and Cape Coral,” says Carr Jr. “We need to have a more significant presence.”
Collier County has less commercial land available, higher taxes on new construction and less inventory of empty space than its northern neighbor. “There's two or three times more activity up there,” Carr Sr. says of Lee County. “That's the problem with Collier, we're just running out.”
Despite climbing rents and rising values, no developer is willing to build a speculative building because of the high costs of land and construction. “The fixed costs are too high,” Carr Sr. says.
Carr Sr. estimates only 2.9% of the industrial space in Collier County is vacant and gross rents are north of $10 a square foot. It costs $100 a square foot to build an industrial building in Collier. “Plus, we have impact fees down here that are out of sight,” he says.
“We have not built a single spec in Collier in six years,” Carr Sr. says, noting that an industrial building that might sell for $40 a square foot in Tampa sells for three times that in Naples.
Both Carrs say they've noticed a slowdown in commercial real estate activity recently, but they don't expect the current growth cycle to end soon. “A lot of people are holding their powder until they see what happens with the election,” Carr Jr. says. “They're being a little more cautious now.”
Carr Sr. has seen his share of economic ups and down since he came to Naples in 1978 to establish a plumbing-supply business. He got into real estate after realizing he'd make more money leasing and building industrial space for contractors and sold his plumbing business in 1986. “I was making lots of money in real estate and putting it in my plumbing-supply business, where it promptly disappeared,” he chuckles.
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