Some of the most prominent names in development and real estate in Manatee County have joined forces, with the launch of a new commercial real estate brokerage under the NDC Cos. umbrella.
Longtime Manatee County sales and leasing leader Ben Bakker will oversee the unit, NDC Commercial Real Estate. In leaving Michael Saunders & Co. to join NDC, Bakker will work with peers and friends Ron Allen and Jason Bartz. Allen, president of NDC, has overseen dozens of the company’s notable projects in the area, from the Manatee County Administration Complex to renovations of the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bartz, the president of NDC Asset Management, meanwhile, has been with the organization for 20 years.
Bakker, in an interview with the Business Observer, says that conversations about a partnership and brokerage go back almost two years. But the trio has known each other much longer. First Bakker supplied signs to NDC Construction, when he worked in that field. And Bakker and Bartz, both previous Business Observer 40 Under 40 winners, later served on the board of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce group for young professionals together. Bartz is the son of the late Bob Bartz, who led the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce and died in 2017.
“The more we discussed it, the more we thought it over, the more I thought it made perfect sense,” Bakker says. “I’m very excited about this opportunity.”
Local real estate agents Darrin Desmarais and David Marcinko will join Bakker in the brokerage, according to a statement. “Adding commercial real estate brokerage services is a natural progression of our business growth from development, construction and property management to a comprehensive range of commercial real estate services,” Allen says in the statement.
Bakker, a founding board member of Realize Bradenton and chair of the Manatee Chamber’s Downtown Redevelopment Committee, has had a role in selling, buying, leasing or managing many projects in the city. That’s both with Michael Saunders & Co. and HJB Properties, a family-owned commercial property entity. “I have a big sense of pride when I drive past a building and know that I had a role in developing or leasing or selling it,” he says.
Bakker and NDC launch the brokerage at an interesting time, when the national economy teeters on a downturn but many packets of Florida remain hot. Bakker believes Manatee County, in between the swelling markets of Sarasota and St. Pete but not as developed, is poised to pick up multiple new commercial projects in the coming months. “I’m very, very bullish on Manatee County,” he says.
Even the Manatee County office market, he says, is doing well, as a lack of space has caused demand to spike while many other regions struggle in a post-pandemic world. “It’s hard to find office space in Manatee County,” he says. “Who would have seen that coming?”