Housing starts have grabbed the headlines in recent years, but the stage is set for a commercial real estate boom on the First Coast.
"The city's goal of having 10,000 people living downtown, I think is realistic," said CB Richard Ellis Broker Bruce Jackson.
"It's not going to happen as fast as everybody wants it, but it's definitely already started, having a 24/7 city."
And with older hotels being converted to condominiums, and a new high-rise condo tower going up on the South Bank there is excitement in the commercial real-estate world.
Traditionally, most tenants in such high-rises live on the upper floors.
"The lower half of those buildings are likely to be retail and commercial businesses throughout downtown," said Jon Metzger of the Real Estate Research and Appraisal Giant, CoStar.
Metzger says he's certain the First Coast is in a commercial real estate boom. His job is to zig-zag through the landscape photographing existing buildings and open spaces where future buildings can go. But his photography has an added flair.
Metzger drives one of CoStar's customized 'rolling offices.' It's a special van equipped with a 25-foot tall telescoping mast with a high-end digital camera on top.
Once parked, he switches to a swiveling Captain's chair in the back of the van at a desk complete with wireless computers linked directly to his Corporate Headquarters in Maryland.
"Once that camera's up in the air, I can focus in and zoom in to the building or zoom out again, to get the best quality picture I can. To get the whole building," said Metzger.
His data is uploaded to the CoStar company's headquarters, where subscribers the world over can access the building and office space information they need to buy or lease property here on the First Coast, or to relocate their businesses here.
"Since we've had the Super Bowl here, it has boomed. It has just escalated ten-fold. I can't keep up with the business and the demand for real estate information," said Metzger.
Those who sell and lease commercial real estate say that while it is often a cyclical business, right now, Jacksonville and the entire First Coast are on an upswing.
They say it's a direct reflection of the global attention we got after Super Bowl XXXIX.
"South Florida, the bloom is off the rose so to speak and now they want to come north," said Bruce Jackson.
"Jobs are the greatest predictor of future office space demand, and all those are positive right now. We don't see any sizable change in that real soon."
First Coast News