Executive Managing Director, Land and Industrial Services
Colliers International Tampa Bay, Central and Southwest Florida
Dan Miller has been an industrial agent and land broker with Colliers International for the past six years, following a decade of work at Re/Max and with his own firm, Dan Miller Realty. Focusing primarily on Lee County and Southwest Florida, Miller became involved with the Premier Airport Park, a 225-acre tract adjacent to the Southwest Florida International Airport, through an ongoing relationship with property owner and developer Principal Real Estate Investors, of Iowa. Principal had acquired the land in 2008. The roughly $200 million project, which is expected to contain 1.87 million square feet of distribution space upon completion, also is the largest speculative, Class A industrial real estate project ever developed in Southwest Florida.
What’s the status of Premier Airport Park?
We have one building completed, essentially, and we’re expecting our certificate of completion on that very soon. Site work around it isn’t done, though, and that won’t fully play out until June. We expect to start a second building, also measuring 106,000 square feet, in the near future. Actually, each of the buildings will be 106,000 square feet, though we’re willing to amend that if the right tenant with the right credit comes along.
Why 106,000 square feet?
There are various components that make up a Class A distribution building, and we’ve incorporated them into Premier Airport Park. Each building will have a 32-foot clear ceiling height, be built with tilt wall construction and be Category Five wind resistant. Each will have concrete paving where there will be heavy truck traffic, and perhaps most importantly, there will be a 180-foot truck court. The reason you need that is with 54-foot tractor trailers, there’s still an aisle in between overhead doors. In some larger markets you see larger buildings, but in Southwest Florida, that’s a good size to serve most all the distributors, and as mentioned, we do have some flexibility on that, if need be.
What tenants have you lined up for your first building?
I can’t give you any names because their leases have yet to be signed, but we’re anticipating signing two of four in the next week or so and then another two about two weeks after that. We’re anticipating Building One to have tenants open for business in the month of August. So stay tuned.
Can you provide any more details on Building Two?
Building Two we expect will break ground in May, maybe June, with tenants in the building in the first quarter of 2020, and Building Three then would break ground around the first of the new year. That cycle then would repeat until we reach about 1.87 million square feet or the current growth cycle diminishes demand. The industrial market in Southwest Florida has been at full speed, and while there’s never an insatiable need, I also don’t see anything on the horizon to stop current demand, though we know that at some point things will slow down.
Why is there such demand for industrial space in the Fort Myers area?
The way products are marketed and delivered has evolved and continues to evolve. Last-mile delivery now is incredibly important to retailers and buyers. The ability on the part of supplies and merchants to determine need and then provide solutions to that need continues to tighten and shorten in time. Currently it’s a day or two days, for most retailers, and that will compress with time. And Fort Myers is in a good place for that. Secondly, there are approximately one million people in the region now, and logistics companies and distributors are realizing increasingly that this is a place they need to have a position in. Added to that, the population in Southwest Florida is more affluent and younger and more tech savvy than ever before, and the economy of the region continues to perform well.
Has proximity to Southwest Florida International helped in the marketing?
It’s an intangible advantage, but yes. The tenant base we’ve been talking to for Building One and Building Two, none of those companies have been dependent on the airport, but a few have expressed that they like that it’s right there. But none of the companies we’re talking to as yet are pure air freight companies.
Other than the newness of the project, what advantages do you think Premier Airport Park has over its competition?
Ours is the only project that has a 180-foot truck court, and that’s very significant. That allows bigger players to know that they can fit in trucks regardless of the amount of freight that’s being brought in. And Principal is a big advantage. They’re institutional and well-capitalized and they understand the business and they build with pride and they keep their buildings with pride. That’s a great benefit to tenants who might fear their building is completed and then sold off, and then there’s a chance that that pride of ownership will go away.
What’s the immediate future for Premier Airport Park look like?
I think it’s looks pretty good. Premier Airport Park is situated so that tenants can deliver to either Miami or Tampa — about 13 million people in all — within a two-hour drive. If someone is supplying those markets I think they have to look at us. But 10 years out? I don’t know. The refinement of last-mile delivery continues, and then what’s next? That we don’t know, because things are moving so fast in the distribution and delivery industry. It’s really exciting times.