An inside look at the state of commercial real estate in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale’s always been a destination. And despite the pandemic, stay-at-home orders and general messiness of 2020, that hasn’t stopped, particularly in the commercial real estate industry.

For Jaime Sturgis of Native Realty, this year has been the “Super Bowl for realtors.” The CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based real estate brokerage says that his team has had to “work five times as hard to produce the same amount of output as we have in prior years for our clients.”

Though there was a delay in momentum with shutdowns in March, Sturgis says that activity and interest are slowly coming back to pre-pandemic levels, boding well for 2021. Ultimately, though the numbers aren’t what they were last year, Sturgis and his team have seen success in hospitality, office and retail leasing.

With roughly 1,000 people per day moving to Florida, and this growth is rippling through commercial real estate as well. Many businesses owners are looking for a move to Florida (top New York firms among them), sometimes because COVID-19 has forced owners to look toward the future. Native just completed a lease for a New Jersey restaurant and bar on a 9,263 square foot space in PMG’s Society Las Olas

“We’re getting calls on a daily basis from restaurant/bar owners from the northeast, looking to relocate to South Florida,” Sturgis says. “We’re also negotiating a full price offer at Motif with another restaurant out of the Northeast. I think they were there for 30 years. The pandemic has caused them to reevaluate. That’s one of several. We’ve had bidding wars on some of the assets as well. Some of the restaurants that we’ve been selling—oftentimes many of those bidders are coming from the northeast.”

With the news of vaccines becoming available, Sturgis expects more confidence in the market. But the effects of the pandemic will still linger. In investment sales, Sturgis has seen a shift in consumer preference: large companies are moving from impressive towers to smaller buildings in the urban core, allowing them to “control their situation in the event that there is another pandemic or another lockdown.” He shares that Native is negotiating with two law firms to buy buildings on 13th Street north of downtown. While the future is uncertain on many fronts, this trend and the continuing trickle of business and people to South Florida bodes well for 2021.

“Oftentimes, commercial real estate deals can take several months to get from start to finish. If activity comes back now, we may not see the full effects of that until quarter one of 2021. But the good news is people are starting to kind of come out of their shell,” Sturgis says. “They’re a little bit more optimistic—albeit cautiously optimistic. We’re starting to see transactions occur again, both on leasing and the investment sale side.”

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.