Plaza building in downtown Orlando (June 13, 2014)
Given ongoing activity in downtown Orlando, a team of local real estate professionals sees rents rising and buildings filling up.
“It’s an exciting time for downtown Orlando,” said Doug Irmscher, Florida market director for Jones Lang LaSalle, in an interview. “I think you will see increased rents and occupancy over the next year. SunRail came along at the exact right time, and the performing arts center and other projects.”
He also noted that city officials continue to focus on downtown growth. The initial findings of the city’s Project DTO committees were presented Friday morning at City Hall.
“What’s really exciting is we’re investing in infrastructure now,” Irmscher said.
Some of the new energy is coming from tech firms and coworking spaces opening downtown, said Nick Poole, a vice president at JLL. He said Orlando is only now catching up to other markets for shared workspaces catering to tech firms and millenials.
Eventually, Irmscher and other JLL experts said, rising occupancy and rents will result in a new office tower. And new condos or apartments in downtown Orlando, such as construction on the Crescent Central Station apartment complex, will grow the need for new retail.
“Everything is really conspiring now in favor of downtown,” said Christopher Ralph, VP and new business development manager for JLL in Orlando. “We’ve had some clients recently looking at new retail downtown. The quality of existing retail will move up from mom and pop stores to regional and national players.”
Ralph noted that the Plaza Building, 155 S. Orange, which includes retail on the first few floors, is currently on the market. That particular building fell on hard times during and after the recession, as profiled in a Sentinel story in 2012.
Irmscher leads Jones Lang LaSalle’s business lines in Florida and is based in downtown Orlando.
According to JLL’s most recent downtown research report, the total vacancy rate has fallen steadily over the past four years to 18 percent now. That report indicated a relatively flat outlook for rent over the next 12 months