By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read May 2020 — The real estate market will know a before and after COVID-19 as soon as activities resume. Sandi Bargfrede, managing partner of ACRE Commercial Real Estate, talks to Invest: about what to expect from Orlando’s market as the pandemic unfolds. 

 

How did ACRE Commercial Real Estate close 2019? 

2019 was a stellar year as not only did we see a tremendous increase in volume, but we also saw an impressive uptick in new retail concepts entering the Central Florida/Orlando market. ACRE specializes in retail third-party leasing, property management and tenant representation and we had never seen such a stronger increase in all aspects of our business than we did in 2019. In addition to strong growth in tenant representation, in the last year we also secured a significant stronghold in the Downtown and surrounding area in the mixed-use sector. 

How does your company capitalize on being an all-female commercial real estate firm? 

Women provide a different perspective on retail as we are typically the shoppers and we usually plan the family social activities. We are able to use this to our advantage as we can bring a different point of view to a project. ACRE did not set out to be an all-female firm. That said, we are all-female-owned but we are always open to hiring exceptional professionals, male or female. My business partner and I have been in this business for 20-plus years each and we have witnessed the industry evolve with more 

professional women entering the historically male-dominated field now more than ever. We believe this trend will continue and we will continue to provide the required mentorship platform for all in the business looking to thrive. 

What unique business opportunities does Orlando offer to your business and operations? 

Seventy-two million people per year visit Orlando, bolstering a strong service and hotel industry, where retail spaces are required to provide for these visitors. The retail opportunities are therefore exponential. We are seeing a significant wave of people moving here due to recent job growth figures, with close to 12 percent overall job growth in Orlando itself. With all of this growth, we are seeing a surge in new development from shopping centers to urban mixed-use communities. These new developments provide ACRE the opportunity to use our experience to work with developers before they break ground. Utilizing our extensive background in leasing, tenant representation and development allows us to create a project with not only the proper infrastructure but also the ability to create the synergistic tenant mix required for a project to be successful for the retailer and developer alike. 

What is your assessment of Orlando’s commercial real estate market? 

It is very strong as there are many vibrant areas that are growing in the Metro Orlando market, such as Hamlin, Lake Nona, Apopka, Clermont and downtown to name a few. We are seeing a housing boom in Orlando and these areas are all creating retail destinations for services and amenities along with community-driven gathering spaces for their residents and visitors. 

How has the COVID-19 outbreak altered the Central Florida real estate market? 

We do not believe it will resemble the 2008 crash, especially if we can get back to work sooner than later. It will definitely change the landscape considering the ever-changing social distancing guidelines and measures. These will certainly have a lasting effect on retail and restaurant margins. However, it will also open the door for reinvention and creativity toward preservation. 

We have always been outside-the-box thinkers. Recession-proof and Amazon-resistant have been part of our vocabulary and now we added pandemic and social distancing to the mix. We will find new ways to create tenant mixes that reflect the changes in our “new normal.” We offer consulting and advisory services to our clients and believe these services will be more valuable than ever to assist with navigating this new unknown landscape together. We have always treated our projects like they are our own and will continue to do so. 

What is your outlook for 2020-21? 

There will be a slight correction in the retail portion of the commercial real estate landscape. This will translate into greater inventory of second generation space available, which will most likely result in a reduction of rental rates until the absorption of inventory is stabilized. We do have a positive outlook as we head into 2021 and businesses start to recover. That said, it is difficult to predict as the COVID-19 effect is still unknown. All in all, we believe there is room for a fast recovery and in the end, Orlando will be stronger than before. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.acrefl.com/