Broward sees flurry of new office projects

OK, so, it is not a bona fide building boom, but it is a mounting wave washing over parts of Broward County’s new-inventory-starved office market.

It is hitting when the soon-to-be longest economic expansion cycle on record may be getting a little long in the tooth.

Dripping with chic names like The Main, The Edison and The Edge, which conjure up images of slick glass, less-is-more design and polished lobbies, a flurry of new, bold projects is now hitting the email inboxes of local office brokers.

While Miami-Dade County continues to lead the tri-county region for sheer volume of new office projects, with nearly 1.1 million square feet under construction, Broward County development is also starting to pop and sizzle. 

There are 621,818 square feet under construction and another 1.7 million square feet of approved office projects in the pipeline as of the fourth quarter, according to CBRE market data.

That’s a startling contrast from the previous five years, when little—or no—office space was delivered in Broward.

The largest and the most talked-about new project is Stiles Corp.’s The Main Las Olas, a 1.4-million-square-foot mega-development on an entire city block at Las Olas Boulevard and Southeast Third Avenue. The project blends a 27-story, 341-unit apartment tower with street-accessible retail, including a GreenWise market and restaurants, with a 25-story, 357,000-square-foot office tower.

Its anticipated late-2020 opening will mark the first new office tower delivered to the city’s downtown since 2008. The base asking rents, starting in the upper $30s a square foot, are likely to pierce the realms of what businesses will pay for a prime city perch and expansive views.

Preleasing has been solid, with law firms such Akerman and Berger Singerman joining BBX Capital to soak up the first 85,000 square feet of office space.

The novelty of new, highly urban space with amenities is driving demand even from traditionally suburban office users, now located in less-pricey pockets such as the Cypress Creek Road submarket, says Kyle Jones, senior managing director of Stiles, which is building the project in partnership with national real estate firm Shorenstein Properties.

“Tenants are coming back into the CBD,” he says. “It is the 24/7 nature of downtown Fort Lauderdale. It is what we are seeing companies do in order to attract and retain talent.”

Further west, the 335,000-square-foot Edison is creating an amenity-filled office campus in Pembroke Pines. The first half of the two-building midrise project is set to open in June, says Greg Martin, principal of Avison Young, which is leasing the project for Atlanta-based developer TPA Group.

With its suburban location along Interstate 75 at Southwest 145th Avenue, the Edison will feature its own 5,000-square-foot amenity center with break area, coffee bar, conference center and gym. The project also offers shared outdoor and interior collaboration spaces for workers to gather and interact creatively.

Martin says that a lease for one wing—about 29,000 square feet—has recently been executed, but he was not able to disclose more details. The Edison’s marketing mantra succinctly captures the sentiment of modern-day corporate occupiers: “A campus built to attract, engage, retain.”

Also, under construction with a near-term opening is the 550 Building, a 95,532-square-foot office building with street retail on South Andrews Avenue, a block off the New River and Las Olas Boulevard.  Part of its allure likely will be access to its 664-car garage, which will offer downtown commuters more ample parking than other downtown buildings.

Other notable projects in Broward:

• The Edge, a proposed 108,000-square-foot office building in Sawgrass International Corporate Park in Sunrise.

• 1700 Metropica, a proposed 170,000-square-foot office building in the ballyhooed, mega-residential, -office, -hotel and -retail project of the same name in Sunrise.

• 101 Fort Lauderdale, a proposed 175,000-square-foot office building at the Brightline station downtown.

• Plantation Pointe, a 143,334-square-foot office building proposed on the 77-acre, former Motorola campus in Plantation.

Despite the recent splash of new office development, Stiles’ Jones doesn’t see any dangers of flooding the office market any time soon. “We have built so little this cycle, I don’t see a risk of overbuilding.”

Freelance writer Darcie Lunsford is a former real estate editor of the South Florida Business Journal. She is the senior VP for leasing at Butters Group and is avoiding a conflict of interest in her column by not covering her own deals.

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