2 min read March 2022 — Jeff Burns, founder and CEO of Affiliated Development, spoke with Invest: about the impact on housing from the influx of people moving to Florida. Moreover, Burns talked about the partnerships the company has and his priorities going forward. “Our primary focus is having a good impact on the places where we invest,” he said.
What are some of your highlights from the last year?
As a company, we got underway on a few large projects. Despite the pandemic, it was a busy year for us. Two noticeable challenges that we’ve encountered have been the scarcity of reasonably priced land and disruption to supply chains, causing volatility in construction pricing. The most newsworthy trend that occurred was the migration shift. In many of our properties, we are seeing residents from places we haven’t historically seen, such as the west coast. The makeup of our population has changed due to the influx of new Florida residents, which has been interesting to witness.
Why do you think people are migrating to Florida and Greater For Lauderdale in particular?
My general thought is that the pandemic sped up the inevitable. There are several reasons why people moved here but mostly it’s because of how Florida handled the pandemic, taxes and overall quality of life. COVID restrictions and policies other cities and states imposed on their residents were difficult for a lot of people to grasp. Florida was fairly open throughout the pandemic, so there was less business disruption. People were attracted to that.
What impact is this in-migration having?
The most notable impact has been how the migration shift has impacted housing and affordability. You have people moving in from places like California, New York and Chicago. These folks are used to paying much higher rent and their incomes are higher. You have a population that’s moving down here who are high-wage earners and that, as a result, is driving the cost of housing through the roof. Current residents who work in industries that provide essential services are being impacted the most. As more business flocks to South Florida, a critical component to the sustainability of these new businesses will be the availability of a quality workforce. If moderate and middle income workers are unable to afford reasonable living accommodations, the workforce will relocate to less costly cities and businesses will have no choice but to explore other options.
In what areas of Greater Fort Lauderdale are you seeing the greatest growth?
We’ve seen a lot of growth occur in up-and-coming neighborhoods like Progress Village, west of Flagler Village along Sistrunk Blvd., and there are some major developments planned south of the New River and along Broward Blvd.
What’s the purpose of mixed-income housing?
All of our projects are mixed-income. The old methodology is that everyone who makes a certain income lives in one building. We don’t believe in that methodology. We want to destigmatize income-restricted housing. One of the beautiful benefits of mixed-income is the integration that happens in any community. If done right, you have a teacher living next to the doctor, both benefit from the exact same quality of finishes and amenities, and nobody knows who makes what.
How important are partnerships to your business?
We pride ourselves on the relationships and partnerships that we’ve entered into and maintained over the course of our careers. In 2020, my partner and I raised a fully discretionary impact fund. Our investors are largely comprised of local public pension plans. One of the unique components of this partnership is that by virtue of investing in our fund, they’re helping solve a public need on a local level. We also have a couple of very tight family office relationships. We’ve been very fortunate to surround ourselves with terrific partners and even better people.
Why is sustainable design a significant trend in Broward County?
From a business aspect, it’s smart. Especially if your goal is to hold your asset long-term. When you implement environmentally sustainable measures into a project, you’re not only doing the right thing, you’re reducing your operating expenses and increasing your bottom line. We certify all of our projects. I think that is going to become more important as time goes on.
What are your priorities for the next two to three years as a company?
Our number one priority is to partner with local government in South Florida to build projects that positively impact the communities we invest in through the creation of economic development and new mixed-income housing. One hundred percent of our projects we develop are public-private-partnerships and given that the majority of South Florida residents are cost burdened, we have a responsibility as a local developer to do what we can to increase the quality of life for our residents. We are ramping up our efforts.
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