Spotlight On: Diane H. Crews, President & CEO, Orlando Sanford International Airport

Spotlight On: Diane H. Crews, President & CEO, Orlando Sanford International Airport

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Since 1971, the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) has been fulfilling its mission to bring convenient air travel to passengers and economic value to Central Florida. Today, SFB is one of the fastest-growing airports in North America, and it’s undergoing an expansion effort that will be completed late this year. SFB’s President and CEO, Diane H. Crews, spoke to the Invest: team about their recent accomplishments. 

What is the status of the renovation project, and what changes are being implemented?

Our terminal expansion project is on schedule for completion in the fourth quarter of 2020. Basically, we are taking the existing footprint of the airport and making it more efficient and user-friendly for passengers and staff alike. Also, we are continuing to grow, and we know that maybe 10 years down the road we will need a new terminal building, but in the meantime, we need to facilitate our ongoing growth so we are adding four new gates and related improvements. For example, we are consolidating screening into one location, creating more way-finding signage and pathways to help passengers get to their destinations with more ease, adding more bathrooms and baggage belts, and even changing the façade of the airport to include an extended canopy to keep people out of the rain. We want our visitors to always feel comfortable while they travel. Our airport code is SFB, which we have adopted as a motto to mean Simpler, Faster, Better. It is important that the changes we’re making reflect this ideology. That’s what sets us apart. 

To what do you attribute the significant passenger growth you have been experiencing?

I attribute the passenger growth to increased public awareness, getting the word out and letting people know we are here and that we offer over 75 nonstop destinations. The growth of the region has had a significant impact as well. We bring our passengers an easy and convenient experience overall, and that is very appealing. The Orlando Sanford International Airport has been used mostly for leisure travel, especially because our flights do not have the frequency that business travelers need. However, that is starting to change. We are seeing more business travel, and we are going to be working toward increasing that component of our operation. 

What has been the impact of your rebranding and new website?

The primary emphasis for the airport’s rebranding and new website was to modernize our appeal and accessibility. Based on the feedback we have received thus far, we have hit a homerun in both areas. The focus on travel convenience and a myriad of affordable and diverse travel opportunities showcased via an updated, mobile-friendly website has proven to be a winning combination. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Orlando Sanford International Airport: https://flysfb.com/ 

Rock Hill crystallizes its future with new development and capital projects

Rock Hill crystallizes its future with new development and capital projects

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — About an hour south of Charlotte, in South Carolina, a city is experiencing an evolution much like its counterpart in North Carolina. Located in York County, the city of Rock Hill is crystallizing its future by moving past its textile history to make way for new development anchored by education and projects related to sports tourism. According to York County leaders, there are over half a billion dollars worth of projects under construction or in the pipeline, while completed projects have begun to change the landscape of Rock Hill and it’s Downtonw.

Much like Charlotte, the city of Rock Hill is focused on attracting and retaining talent as part of its economic development master plan, leveraging the growth of Winthrop University as the centerpiece of the capital projects happening in the area. The seminal project in the region, University Center, located in the Knowledge Park area, has already seen $100 million of total investment. “It’s a 23-acre former mill site that closed in the 1990s and employed around 5,000 people,” University Center developer Skip Tuttle told Invest: Charlotte. “It links Winthrop University to Downtown Rock Hill on the other side.” When complete, the project will account for about $250 million of development in Downtown Rock Hill. Tuttle, president of the Tuttle Company, is also making way for new office space in the nearby Lowenstein building featuring 225,000 feet of Class-A space, slated to attract new businesses to the region. “We have progressed rapidly on the redevelopment and have leased 70 percent of it. There are 350 people working there now in 10 firms,” he said. 

Another game changer for the region has been the Rock Hill Sports and Event Center. Opened

In January, the center welcomed 13,000 people during its first month in business, Tuttle said. “It has proven to be a phenomenal success, to the point that virtually every week this year it is booked,” he said. The center will serve as a mecca for indoor amateur sports ranging from gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, competitive cheerleading, and even cornhole. “It is going to be a catalyst for the rest of what we are doing in Rock Hill, which includes restaurants, breweries, outdoor entertainment venues, as well as office complexes. It is a true live, work, and play environment,” Tuttle said. 

Much of Rock Hill’s success can be attributed to the flurry of development and economic diversification happening in the Queen City. “There is no question that we are located in an area that is a desirable place to be because we are close to a major metropolitan area with an international airport less than 30 minutes away,” Tuttle said. “We have companies that are here because of the proximity to that airport and the other things that Charlotte has to offer.” Yet, Tuttle believes that Rock Hill has the workforce and infrastructure needed to create its own boom in economic growth and diversification. “About 56,000 people a day commute to Charlotte from York County. The local economic development folks are using that as a tool to recruit businesses by telling leaders that those highly trained, well-qualified individuals who leave York County to work in Charlotte could be working for them in Rock Hill,” he said, “And it is working.” 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: https://tuttleco.com/

Spotlight On: Beat Kahli, President and CEO, Avalon Park Group

Spotlight On: Beat Kahli, President and CEO, Avalon Park Group

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — The Sunshine State has been a beacon of light for companies and families wishing to live, learn, work and play under the sun. Much of the population growth happening in Florida is concentrated in Central and South Florida. Compared to South Florida, the Orlando market still has land to develop and has done a great job in diversifying its economy, Avalon Park Group CEO Beat Kahli told Invest: Orlando. The group is developing four projects spanning from Tampa to Daytona Beach and focusing on mixed-use communities where residents can live, learn, work and play.  

How would you describe the strength of the real estate market in Orlando today?

Orlando has a high level of infrastructure, with the Orlando International Airport, the Orange County Convention Center, University of Central Florida and a broad job base. The level of infrastructure compared to the pricing on real estate is one of the biggest advantages in the area. If you compare Orlando to other markets like South Florida and New York, Orlando still has land. While we still have a lot of land available, Orlando has done a great job in diversifying its economy. The I-4 corridor is key to the region’s growth and I see Orlando and Tampa growing together. 

 

What are your most significant projects in Central Florida?

We have four large projects in the I-4 corridor between North Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach and Tavares. We have over 20,000 residential units and those projects are all at different stages. Our Avalon Park Orlando project is 99% completed. For this project, we focused first on young families. We have 10,000 students stationed in our school district and thousands of homes already built. The community is a great place to live, learn, work and play with a variety of apartments, single homes, town houses, schools and about 150 businesses.  

 

What are some trends in Orlando’s real estate market?

People are interested in mixed-use development communities where you can live, learn, work and play. Building smaller homes is another trend, especially due to their affordability. People are getting smaller homes with higher upgrades in design and finishes. The most important change is toward live, learn, work, play communities and the quality of life these present. Co-working spaces are also a trend and we have already started to include these types of spaces in our communities. 

 

What is your outlook for Orlando’s real estate sector in the next year?

We have done a much better job after the Great Recession. When I look back on the last decade of recovery, I’m very positive about Central Florida for the next 20 years. However, we expect the real estate sector to stabilize within the next two years. Central Florida has attractive prices, and its diversified economy provides great opportunities for real estate investments.  

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.avalonparkgroup.com/team/

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Charlotte’s growth continues to attract a gamut of industries and talent into the region. As a result, the legal needs of businesses are evolving along with the diversification of the local economy, expanding the opportunities for legal professionals in the Queen City. Charlotte’s cost of living and sophisticated legal services rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Partner Christopher Lam told Invest: Charlotte. The business diversity is driving the need for expertise in compliance and data privacy. Additionally, there is a great emphasis to provide access to justice to all residents via pro bono legal services or by committing financial resources to community agencies in the region, Lam said. 

Q: How has the legal landscape changed with so much economic growth in the region?

A: From a legal perspective, a lot of firms from outside North Carolina decided to set up an office here, and not all of those have remained. According to American Lawyer, however, there are 59 law firms with a Charlotte office that are not headquartered here. This remains a very popular place to be for lawyers and that’s because of the way our business community has diversified.

We are known as a banking and financial services hub, and while this is still a key part of our economy, we are so much more than that, with energy, manufacturing, fintech and other sectors emerging. That diversification is good for us as lawyers too, as it better equips us to weather a potential downturn. For example, our firm has experts in multiple practice areas and industries, which allows us to serve clients with those needs and protects us against a downturn in one or two particular sectors.

Q: How have the legal needs of companies evolved as new technologies and developments emerge?

A: The core legal needs for businesses have largely remained the same – corporate, employment, litigation, real estate. But with new regulations, there is a greater need for expertise in compliance, specifically in data privacy, and particularly with new regulations such as GDPR and CCPA going into effect. That impacts almost every company. At Bradley, we have two of only a handful of lawyers in the country who are board-certified privacy lawyers, and we have an additional deep bench of lawyers who are CIPP-US certified. We have been well-positioned to help companies navigate these new regulations. 

Q: How do you think the private sector and public officials must work together to keep growth sustainable?

A: Charlotte has a proud legacy of business leadership in issues of community development and public policy. Our business leaders have long been champions of these initiatives and we certainly think we at Bradley are a part of that effort. It is important as corporate citizens that we recognize that the better we make our community as a whole, the better it is for everyone.

Q: How does the Charlotte legal market compare with other markets such as Chicago or New York?

A: Those cities are larger and more diverse and sometimes those legal markets can seem more attractive, whether it be a higher salary or more opportunities. In Charlotte, however, because of the diversity of the business community, we have sophisticated legal services here to rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. We also have a cost of living that is more advantageous, meaning lawyers can have great opportunities with a lower cost of living. That’s the best of both worlds.

Q: What are the main challenges facing the Charlotte market today?

A: Most of the 5,500 lawyers in Mecklenburg County are not working in big firms or representing large companies. And there are thousands of residents in the broader Charlotte community who have legal needs but cannot afford legal services. As current president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, my time spent working with groups like the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has emphasized that the greatest challenge for lawyers here is our responsibility to ensure there is access to justice for all. We have a professional obligation to do so. We can do this in a couple primary ways – providing pro bono legal services ourselves or committing our financial resources to the agencies doing the heavy lifting every day. That issue is not unique to Charlotte, but as lawyers we have a particular responsibility to help ensure there is access to justice. I am very proud to say our lawyers at Bradley live into that. As but one example, we have a partnership with the Bank of America legal department through which we work with Safe Alliance to represent clients who need domestic violence protective orders. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.bradley.com/

Spotlight On: Gray Shell, Division President, TRI Pointe Homes

Spotlight On: Gray Shell, Division President, TRI Pointe Homes

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — Creative product design and an increase in density are part of achieving a higher relative affordability for housing developer TRI Pointe Homes, according to Division President Gray Shell. The company also takes pride in achieving good, lasting business relationships with partners and providers to keep prices fair in an increasingly tight market, he said in an interview with Invest: Charlotte. 

How have you been able to secure land in the tight North Carolina market?

 

It really starts with people, with hiring the right land acquisition team to identify and underwrite the deals. Company strategy follows. TRI Pointe is a $3 billion public company. We build in seven states, but really, real estate is a local business. We have this concept called the best of big and small, meaning, we are a big, public company, we have access to the public debt markets, we have nearly a billion in liquidity to invest, but we really see the land strategy, the product design, the consumer segmentation as a local business. We have the flexibility to be creative and current with our product design and to be design-forward. That really resonates well with land sellers, developers and municipalities when we talk about our creativity on the product side. That is probably the largest single factor in our success in addition to people. Then, there is the process. You have to have the right process of identifying, underwriting and contracting land.

 

How is creativity applied to property development?

 

We start with a property, for example something near Uptown Charlotte. Here, it is about small acreage and a lot of density, and we want to create good relative affordability. So, we know what the property is, but we need to design the site plan and the product to maximize the use of that land.

 

We go through a product design process in which we identify the consumer. For example, are they millennials and if so, are they married or single, what is the household income? We’ll go through a three- day design process considering the customer’s wants and needs and, from scratch, draw a series of plans. By the end of those three days, we’ll have a good set of working drawings, with exterior elevations and renderings so we really understand the product. Most national builders would do that in nine months; we do it in a week.

 

What has been the impact of the millennial generation on the local market?

 

They do represent the single largest consumer group from a home buying perspective. But even if some people see millennials as one large group, there are really four or five different subsets, related to age, stage of life and income. The one thing all of them do want is relative affordability. It depends on whether they want an in-town, four-story product or a more suburban, traditional, residential two-story product, but you really have to decide what subsegment of that generation you are targeting.

 

The sort of amenities that we add to these developments has changed dramatically over the last five to 10 years. A lot of residential projects that were built 10 years ago had a big swimming pool, a large clubhouse, a golf course, but that has really transitioned and I can tell you, the No. 1 amenity today is walkability. Whether a community has a trail system, walkability to retail, entertainment and restaurants, that is the No. 1 amenity. When we get to suburban communities, there is still that want and need for younger families to have a swimming pool, but the scale is usually smaller.

 

How are you navigating the increase in construction costs in the area as you develop these communities?

 

It really starts with relationships. We partner with trade partners on the product design, on the value engineering, and they want to grow their business with ours. With that relationship, you might not get the best price, but you get a fair price and you get more advance notice of cost increases because you are partnering on it. It is also a tight labor market, the labor pool is short, but when you build a business relationship where they’d rather work for you, that is how you get the labor, and again, a fair price.

 

What other challenges for developers are arising in the Charlotte market?

 

Land availability has always been an issue. There is also the complexity regarding zoning, entitlements, and permit fees that continue to escalate so the cost of development becomes more expensive and affects affordability from a consumer standpoint. Those are the biggest problems. Every municipality is a little bit different and we have a dozen in the Charlotte market, so you have to really understand the municipality and partner with it to get the best result.

 

How can developers and local governments help to cover the affordable housing gap in the market?

 

I think that it requires flexibility from a product design standpoint, and creating good relative affordability. You get there by creating smaller, denser products, but it pushes yields up too. Some municipalities don’t like density, but I think getting more creative with density is the best approach over the next three to five years.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.tripointehomes.com/

 

We’re making our mark on the industry by offering a strong benefits programs and great opportunities to build careers, a total rewards program to attract and retain the best talent: the unusual combination of offering both industry-leading 401(k) matches and a pension plan to most teammates; industry-leading time off programs to ensure maximum flexibility in planning life events; and financial wellness programs.

 

There is also a place for those interested in computer science and engineering. We are creating an Innovation and Technology Center in Charlotte that will be dedicated to the ongoing enrichment of client experiences. The Innovation and Technology Center will focus on optimizing technology to serve our clients at every interaction, whether it takes place in a branch, over the phone or through a digital channel. The Technology and Innovation Center will also focus on equipping teammates with solutions to deliver personal touch and care to clients. We see this combination of technology and personalization as vital to ensuring clients’ trust and confidence in the security, simplicity and convenience of our services.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit :https://www.truist.com/

Face Off: The growth of Gaston County

Face Off: The growth of Gaston County

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — In the last few years, Gaston County, located an hour away from the Queen City, has greatly benefited from the activity happening in Mecklenburg County. As a result, Gaston County, home to cities like Gastonia and Mount Holly, is experiencing growth in its residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Its proximity to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and available land make it a suitable place for businesses and new residents to settle in and still tap into the energy of nearby Charlotte. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, city of Gastonia Mayor Walker E. Reid and Mount Holly Mayor Bryan Hough talk about how their perspective cities are adapting to the growth, changes in infrastructure, and their vision for their cities moving forward. 

 

What areas are witnessing growth in your cities?

 

Walker E. Reid: Residential is growing in the southeast part of the city. It is an area we invested in a while back in hopes of developing it. As we speak, 411 single-family homes are being built within Nolen Farm. Also, we are going to bolster the zone’s water infrastructure and improve the sewage system. Eastridge Mall is in the process of being revitalized as well. For this project, some investors are willing to inject between $100 million and $150 million. It will include apartments and an aquatic center. We are working on the details of traffic patterns in and out of the mall. We are also working with the Transportation Commission to get the Silverline light rail into Gaston County.

 

Bryan Hough: We are one of the closest cities to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our proximity to the airport provides an opportunity for travelers and professionals to see Mount Holly and take an interest in the city. They’ll see that we have a small town atmosphere but can take advantage of a large place like Charlotte and the amenities they provide. The exposure the airport provides is good for job growth and opportunities for commercial growth. For 2020, we expect to see more investment coming to Mount Holly. We are going to see additional growth in both residential and commercial. We also plan to expand the greenway system. Our arts community has been blossoming and we expect it to continue to grow. 

Walker E. Reid

How is the local infrastructure dealing with the region’s growth?

 

Reid: The county was traditionally and primarily focused on the textile industry. When those businesses and jobs were lost, we had to adapt to find our next business niche, which turned out to be infrastructure. Now, we sell water to municipalities in Gaston County as well as in Clover, South Carolina. We also provide water, sewage and electricity services. The Gastonia Technology Park is a great testament to our diversification efforts. Businesses from all over the world have come to Gaston County to capitalize on this park. It has 24-hour uninterrupted power. We have a qualified workforce, training facilities and the infrastructure to assist new businesses looking to set up shop in Gastonia.

 

Hough: “Mount Holly, located in Gaston County, is home to 16,000 residents. In the past year, we have seen a lot of investor interest and development in Mount Holly. Investors in the manufacturing and distribution sectors are interested in development opportunities. We have a new hotel being built on the edge of our city, off of Interstate 85, which is connected to Charlotte, and is 10 minutes away from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our economic development department created a strategic vision plan based on significant economic input that highlights the attributes of Mount Holly, and provides investment information for businesses that want to bring their operations to the area. We work with the Gaston County Economic Development Commission to attract and retain large commercial companies. We want to make investment information accessible to investors.  

Bryan Hough

As mayor, where do you see your city heading in the future?

 

Reid: We have set some very aggressive goals related to our infrastructure, healthy communities, good government, economic vitality, our community identity, and for the safety of our community. In the coming years, we will continue to build on our momentum of growth and entrepreneurship. We also must continue to bring everyone to the table because we are a diverse city. One other goal that I would like to see the city work toward is for more diversity and inclusion. I want to put more emphasis on getting our residents from different cultures and different age groups involved in our city’s future – to build a sense of belonging and bring everyone together. Let’s hear more and different voices. I want the city of Gastonia to become the best city we can possibly be. Considering we are between Charlotte and Atlanta, we have a lot to offer.

 

Hough: Quality of life has been a key focus for the city. We want to be connected to the Catawba River via a greenway system that we are developing. We will have around 9 miles of greenway development near the river and 200 acres have been preserved for eco-tourism, such as canoeing and kayaking. We will have a bridge near the Dutchman’s Creek greenway area that will help with development near the river. The greenway system will stretch from I-85 to Highway 16 once it is completed. Mount Holly is home to very active residents who like to swim, bike and kayak. We want to connect with nature, which is part of our logo. That is our niche in the Charlotte Metro Area.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.cityofgastonia.com/

https://www.mtholly.us/

Spotlight On: Leor Hemo, Founder & Managing Principal, Vantage Real Estate Services

Spotlight On: Leor Hemo, Founder & Managing Principal, Vantage Real Estate Services

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — Real estate investors from high-valuation areas like New York, North Jersey, Texas and California are bringing considerable activity to the Southern New Jersey region due to its affordability, according to Leor Hemo, founder and managing principal of Vantage Real Estate Services. The Invest: team recently interviewed Hemo about the strengths, challenges and areas of growth in South Jersey’s real estate market. 

 

 What unique investor opportunities does South Jersey offer?

South Jersey geographically is positioned to attract not only investors but also companies that require space, such as those in logistics, transportation and warehousing. South Jersey has the land mass to allow for large-scale, industrial developments. I-95 and or I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike connect to New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and further down to the Southern states. Comparatively, the eastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia markets lack this land mass. With the national economy so strong, low interest rates and small business confidence up, we are experiencing an influx of small businesses leasing office space. There has even been increased activity in the retail world in the past few years. Retail space is being occupied by service providers, such as healthcare and financial services. There is a soaring demand for large-scale developments for multifamily projects in South Jersey. 

 

What is the landscape for healthcare real estate?

The large healthcare systems are taking over the traditional family practices and specialties. Dental specialists and oral surgeons are active in starting new practices or expanding them. The same can be said for physical therapists and chiropractors. These specialty practices are growing and fueling a large demand for space. By the nature of their business, chiropractors, physical therapists and dentists are always interested in retail space for visibility and exposure purposes.

 

What challenges do you face in South Jersey?

The biggest challenge is the bureaucracy from our local governments, as well as the tax burden on businesses and individuals. Real estate taxes are still the No. 1 issue for property owners and businesses because of the impact on rents. Some regulations in place are hampering business and growth.

 

What is your outlook for the company and the market?

In terms of Vantage Real Estate, we just opened a new office in Philadelphia. It is a market we are rapidly growing into. We are also expanding our services portfolio: We have expanded our services and specialties and offer healthcare real estate, business brokerage, investment sales and multifamily as well. If the economy does well, South Jersey will do well, provided the regulatory framework remains unrestrictive. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Vantage Real Estate Services: https://www.vantageres.com/ 

 

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020   — The Queen City closed out the decade as one of the hottest markets in the nation, especially in the southeast. Millennials, Fortune 500 companies, and even a new soccer team want to be fully established in Charlotte and tap into its growth. And while the region offers a robust, tech- and financial services-savvy workforce, and is steadily diversifying its economy, a new report puts Charlotte in the middle of the pack for best cities for jobs in 2020. However, local market leaders across industries say job opportunities will remain sustainable for 2020, especially in the technology, law, and real estate sectors.

 

A new report by WalletHub puts Charlotte at No. 104 on its ranking of “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs.” The personal finance website compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 indicators of job-market strength, such as employment growth and monthly average starting salary. Scottsdale, Arizona, took the top spot, and Detroit, Michigan, came in last at No. 182. Other major North Carolina metros received mixed reviews, with Raleigh cracking the Top 50 at No. 48, and Fayetteville listed before Detroit at No. 181. Though the report listed Charlotte as middle of the pack for jobs compared to other cities, the technology, law and real estate sectors will continue to provide opportunities for the region’s workforce, local leaders say.  

 

Charlotte is quickly becoming a tech town, as evidenced by the different tech-based companies that relocated to the region in the latter half of the last decade. “In the Charlotte market, the technology talent pool is growing at a rapid pace, largely driven by companies like Red Ventures, LendingTree, and AvidXchange,” JLL Market Director Chase Monroe told Invest: Charlotte. “There has been a need for high-tech talent. Locally, there has been investment in the school system to drive technological education.” Charlotte’s banking legacy, coupled with the fintech that is coming out of the banking system, is also fueling the technology sector and driving talent to the Queen City, Monroe said. “Those factors have allowed Charlotte to be a top recruiter for multiple tech-based opportunities across industries. Recruiting and retention of talent has been a huge factor in the Charlotte Metro Area.” 

 

Similarly, the legal sector has evolved with the growth of the city and has a positive outlook heading into the new decade. “I don’t see anything but good things for the legal profession here,” Poyner Spruill Partner Tate Ogburn told Invest: Charlotte. “Charlotte has grown for the two decades that I have lived here, and I don’t see that dramatically changing.” The legal needs of companies evolve with the economic diversification and growth of the region, which creates opportunities for legal professionals, he said. “It is still a place where people want to be and there are more opportunities with new and more sophisticated companies coming in for the legal sector to continue growing. There are a lot of opportunities in terms of new clients and people, and different types of work as well,” Ogburn said. 

 

Real estate and development provide investor confidence and opportunities for the workforce as Charlotte continues to grow. “I’ve been at this for 40 years and the real estate market in Charlotte is the strongest, most robust I’ve ever seen,” Northwood CEO Ned Curran told Invest: Charlotte. He highlighted the growth of the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. “Residential leads the way. It has not slowed like in other cities. Distribution and manufacturing continue to grow, and we have a unique distribution hub of state highways and rail networks associated with the airport. The office sector has trailed a little, but in recent years it has been catching up, which is a reflection of job growth,” he said. Curran expects the growth to continue during an election year and beyond while expressing confidence in the region and its economic diversification, which will allow the region to be better prepared in the event of an economic downturn, he said. “We will continue to grow across all sectors. We continue to diversify our economy, which only gives us greater strength. When there is a downturn in the economy, not everybody suffers. Some have disadvantages, some have advantages, but we are all components of an economic system and with our great diversity, we will be able to weather it better.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: 

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/#methodology

https://www.us.jll.com/en/locations/southeast/carolinas

https://www.poynerspruill.com/

https://www.northwoodoffice.com/

 

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The Broward County Convention Center and Hotel is one of the largest projects underway in Broward County. A project of this magnitude requires the utmost care in regards to design and architecture, as well as the foresight to plan for future environmental challenges. Invest: spoke with Andrew Burnett, the senior principal for Stantec, which is working on the Convention Center project. Burnett addressed the company’s ongoing projects, how shifting demands have changed its focus and the National Flood Insurance Program. 

 

What are some of your most significant projects in development within Broward County? 

 

We have multiple projects throughout Broward County, including the Fort Lauderdale region, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Miramar. For instance, we are the architect of record and landscape architect for the Broward County Convention Center and Hotel, which is around a $1 billion project. This is an extremely large and involved project requiring integrated services from Stantec that also has many resilient aspects being built into it that we hope to use as a model for future growth and development throughout the county. As we are expanding the convention center and building the new hotel, we have done a series of wave-height analyses. These are not just focused on the floodplain and how high we need to build the building to stay out of the floodplain, they also address storm surges and how to design the building to be more resilient in those situations. It has been great to have the county’s support on these matters. Our other projects in Broward County include the new AC Hotel by Marriott in Sawgrass Mills, Manor Miramar, Las Olas Walk and 1380 South Ocean Boulevard. 

 

How have you seen demand shift in the last couple of years and how are you adapting to this shift? 

 

Historically, we would see the demand for smaller residential units in the Downtown urban core because of the density of the population. As we moved away from the urban areas, the units were constructed bigger to attract more people, but now we are starting to see smaller units becoming attractive away from the urban centers. This indicates that people are looking for alternative solutions that are more affordable. It may also be partially due to having more flexibility and adaptability in the way that we live and the way that we engage the community as Broward becomes more connected and dense. We foresee more of these deals for smaller units outside of the main urban areas making sense for investors. 

 

We are seeing more residential projects that want to permit themselves as or like a hotel. There is some gray area with the rise of services like Airbnb and WhyHotel that can allow owners to operate as a short-term rental while they’re leasing up their building. Owners and investors are starting to take advantage of this. This is shifting how we design our projects. For instance, if we need to design for things like ADA bathrooms, which you would find in a hotel, we are starting to look at an earlier stage how we might design the spaces to be more flexible to do this.

 

How have you seen Opportunity Zone legislation affect your business? 

 

We have seen an increase in requests for test fits on properties that fall in Opportunity Zones. The market is starting to ask questions on sites and locations that they hadn’t previously. There are a lot of regulations that are being finalized and released in the near future that are going to help increase investor confidence to go forward in these Opportunity Zones, but it may be too early to see the fruit of the test fits in these sites. We are expecting to see more of this in 2020. 

 

How much of a focus do you place on possible future changes to the National Flood Insurance Program? 

 

We are looking more broadly at what is happening with the National Flood Insurance Program and what may happen in the future in terms of how we go about flood insurance regarding how much of it is subsidized by taxpayers. At some point, taxpayers are going to say that they do not want to be subsidizing flood insurance for landowners who may not be doing enough to protect their buildings. As risk starts to shift from insurance entities to owners, they are going to be asked what they are doing to make their building more resilient. What we are trying to do with our integrated team is to find solutions to this so we can go back to our clients and suggest to them what they need to do to mitigate this risk. 

 

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https://www.stantec.com/en