MIAMI—Can JaxPort compete with South Florida ports? Monte Merritt, senior director with Franklin Street’s Jacksonville office, has some thoughts on that. But he’s more concerned with how the port dredging is going to buoy Jacksonville’s own industrial and office markets.
GlobeSt.com caught up with Merritt to take the pulse on JaxPort’s standing and how it will ultimately impact the local commercial real estate market. He drills down specifically into office and industrial space in part two of this exclusive interview.
GlobeSt.com: What major brands are currently working with the Port or in talks?
Merritt: Volkswagen recently signed a five-year contract to begin importing Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley vehicles through the port. Last year, GE Oil & Gas, a division of Fortune 500 company General Electric, announced plans for an advanced manufacturing facility in Jacksonville and in March Duke Indiana Construction Limited Partnership announced the company will build a $5.6 million office building for the General Services Administration near the port.
GlobeSt.com: How long before the dredging will affect the commercial real estate market?
Merritt: The deepening must occur before expansion of office and industrial will be seen. I would estimate about a year after completion is when we should start seeing more demand for warehouse space and other industrial/office properties. Originally, local officials were saying the project would be done in 2016 but the completion estimate has now been pushed back to 2017 or 2018.
GlobeSt.com: What are your predictions for the future of Jacksonville’s industrial and office markets?
Merritt: Local real estate executives remain optimism about the expansion and development of these markets, and I believe the port dredging project is a significant contributor. Although the funding sources are still unclear, it is important for the city to look forward.
For industrial, a deeper port will attract additional shipping lines, creating a need for more warehouse and distribution centers. For the office market, it will entice businesses that rely on large cargo shipments to relocate or expand to Jacksonville to have a presence near the port.