Writer: Felipe Rivas
opens IMAGE file 3 min read January 2021 — Challenges abound almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic as well as opportunities. Rolling out of the vaccine efficiently will be key in ensuring a strong recovery at the national and state levels. For Greater Fort Lauderdale, the region’s pro-business climate, growing population, and diversification away from the service economy will further fuel the recovery process. While the impacts of 2020 will have ripple effects well into 2021 and beyond, local leaders are cautiously optimistic about Broward County’s ability to emerge stronger from the pandemic landscape. Maintaining client relationships and a strong focus on driving value will be key to capitalize on the opportunities found within the market, they told Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale.
Eve Cann, Managing Shareholder, Baker Donelson
A significant portion of the work that we do out of the Fort Lauderdale office is in the financial services sector. We are keeping close track of everything that has been going on relating to moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions. We know that our bank and lender clients are also closely tracking CDC guidelines and federal regulations as well as state regulations on all that. As vaccines hopefully get finalized, approved, released and rolled out to the masses, I definitely think we will see a boom in financial services litigation, whether it be from foreclosures and evictions or other industry-related issues.
Walter Duke, President, Walter Duke + Partners
opens IMAGE file Until a politically acceptable, widespread vaccine becomes available to the masses in an inexpensive and seamless manner, we are not going to get back to what we viewed as normal. Until employers feel comfortable in allowing their employees back into their businesses, or their customers back into their stores, restaurants and hotels, bypassing the prevalent and significant levels of liability currently, we are not going to start climbing the steep slope toward stability. For the last six months of 2020, we have been in a state of suspended animation, in which lenders focused on existing relationships, subsidies have been provided to working people and businesses, which has allowed them to continue, and sales taxes are up in some states, with relatively good collections in the multifamily space. We anticipate that is all going to change when subsidies stop and/or there is no additional stimulus. On the positive side, it has been a liquid market up until now.
The box has been smaller, the underwriting has been tougher, but capital is still available. We are in an extremely low interest rate environment and low interest rates do cover a lot of sins. Projects can still be feasible at 4-6% interest. 2021 will be a transitional recovery year with weaker assets getting flushed out and stronger assets and uses thriving. There will be tremendous opportunities for savvy investors. By 2022, we expect to begin seeing local governments begin to suffer from a decrease in tax revenue. Despite the coming difficulties, Broward County in general and Fort Lauderdale in particular are well-positioned to survive the negative impacts of the pandemic and make a recovery. As I said at the outset there is always a flight to quality during a time of crisis and Florida, particularly South Florida is a desirable high-quality global market for commercial real estate investment and a great place for a growing number of remote workers to live, work and play.
Bob Denison, President & Founder, Denison Yacht Sales
Our priorities are this emerging group of people who are into boating and yachting for the very first time because of COVID-19. Our focus is to ensure they have a blast. If something goes wrong with their boat, we want to take care of it and get them back in the water as stress free as possible. Our industry is going to have a marvelous 2021 if we take great care of those customers who would normally not be in our industry. We’re going to shrink as an industry if we fail to do so.
Seth Siegel, Managing Partner, South Florida, Grant Thornton
opens IMAGE file We are incredibly bullish on the South Florida market. Why? Look at GDP growth and population shifts – and look at the competitive landscape and the pro-business environment here. It’s fertile terrain for growth-minded companies. Of course, we do have to keep our eyes on a few things. There are some potential technology-driven disruptors coming down the pike, including nanotechnology, fintech and cryptocurrencies powered by blockchain. And remote working is here to stay. We could see remote work evolve into a hybrid at-home/in-office model once the pandemic subsides. So we are going to have to embrace a new way of delivering services. Moreover, professional-services firms will need to use technology and data to offer more cost-effective and forward-looking solutions to their clients. And firms will need to provide their clients with relationships that drive maximum value.
To learn more about our interviewees, visit: