Spotlight On: Sandi Bargfrede, Managing Partner, ACRE Commercial Real Estate

Spotlight On: Sandi Bargfrede, Managing Partner, ACRE Commercial Real Estate

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. 


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Spotlight On: Steven McCraney, President & CEO, McCraney Property Company

Spotlight On: Steven McCraney, President & CEO, McCraney Property Company

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read April 2020 —  The strength of the commercial real estate sector relies on the major roadways that run in and around Orlando, Steven McCraney told Invest:. He also notes that the location of Orlando is a great anchor to position his business as it provides ease of access to everywhere the company needs to be, as well as how the primary growth of his company has clearly been the warehouse and distribution space. 

How connected is the strength of the commercial real estate market to the major roadways in Orlando? 

The strength of the commercial real estate sector relies on the major roadways that run in and around Orlando. The last 50 years in Florida were all about the I-95 corridor, from Jupiter to Coral Gables. If you were to drive that route today there is not an available parcel of land on the roadway. We believe the next 50 years for Florida are going to be primarily focused on the I-4 corridor, from Tampa Bay to Lakeland to Orlando and onto Daytona Beach. While Daytona has not started to pop yet, the thing that we know is that there are two major roadways in Daytona, I-4 and I-95, which leads us to believe that it will be a good market at some point in the near future.


Why is Orlando the most ideal location for your operations? 

The Orlando economy continues to thrive. It’s attracting new residents, it’s generating new jobs and the increased interest is driving industrial users into the market because of the ability to distribute out of the state of Florida from the region on a one-day basis. We relocated to Orlando because the area places us right in the middle of the state. We operate throughout the Southeast and Orlando, which anchors us in the middle of everywhere that we need to be. It also provides the ability to move easily throughout the Southeast because of the region’s dynamic airport.


In regard to your business operations, where have you seen the most growth?

We are industrial developers. That is our mainstay and focus. This is complemented by third-party property management. As of late, the growth has clearly been the warehouse and distribution space. The total industrial space in Orlando is 123 million square feet, which breaks down into roughly 100 million square feet of warehouse distribution, 13 million square feet of manufacturing and the remainder is made up of office, flex space and distribution product. Here’s what we know: warehouse is the new retail. If a person is ordering online, whether it’s products,  clothing or food, the merchandise is likely not coming from a store, it is almost certainly coming from a warehouse. This is attributed to e-commerce growth and third-party logistics. Over the next few years, we are going to see the markets continuing to change and expand. From an industry perspective, I believe we have a trajectory that is at least 15 years long. While the product may continue to change, that product is coming from somewhere and that somewhere is a warehouse. As social distancing is ever more important and various markets are now under a “shelter in place” order, it is clear that suppliers, like Amazon, are still delivering essentials through package products to each and every home.


What market trends have had an effect on your business? 

We are always looking for ways to leverage technology in our business. Whether it’s roofing systems, lighting or super-flat floors, we want a logistics facility to be plug and play for a customer. The biggest challenge in recent years is rising costs. This can be broken down into the rising labor cost and the cost of materials. For example, the cost to build out a 1,500-2,000-square-foot office space within a warehouse space today can easily run around $250,000. That number exceeds $100 per square foot. At the same time, we have seen strong rent growth and because of that we have been able to keep pace. As we presently enter an economic downturn due to this pandemic, one would expect the cost of goods – both labor and material – will correct. Most of us in the industry went through the last recession and we know how debilitating it was. Moving forward, we have to be cautiously optimistic as we enter this challenging economic cycle and be mindful of our leverage, occupancy, quality of tenancy and our construction exposure.  


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