Writer: Esteban Pages
3 min read September 2023 — Broward County’s construction pipeline is being developed following the course outlined by BrowardNext 2.0, a comprehensive plan encompassing the needs of ongoing and future growth and infrastructure priorities. The plan’s main pillars revolve around transportation, affordable housing, climate change and economic development.
The construction industry is following suit to cater to the shifting needs of Broward County, staying ahead of the trends dictated by the comprehensive plan as well as the local needs in terms of additional attainable housing and consolidating urban resiliency in the face of more frequent extreme weather events. Invest: sat down with Alex Hernandez, president of Hernandez Construction & Development and Alan Hooper, co-founder of Urban Street Development Fort Lauderdale, to discuss the latest trends in Broward County’s construction industry.
What overarching opportunities do you see for the construction industry in Broward County?
Alan Hooper: Our focus is on identifying overlooked areas within Broward County that have the potential to thrive through the implementation of mixed-use projects. While the downtown central area is currently experiencing a surge in the market, numerous untapped areas throughout the county could benefit from an infusion of energy and talented people.
One of the critical factors that will drive success in these areas is connectivity. To that end, Broward County is investing a penny from local sales tax into transportation infrastructure, including east-west light rail and better mobility for transit and cars alike.
Brightline set the tone for the future. Next up, the Coastal Link commuter will share the line with Brightline and offer a north-south rail from Miami to Palm Beach County, with a multitude of stops. Most every city in the three counties along the FEC line will help to enhance connectivity and unlock new and strategic development for Broward County. The bonus for us, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, is the dead center, bullseye!
Alex Hernandez: Population growth is always a huge driver for demand. As we service Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, we are challenged with land constraint issues. It is imperative for us to devise strategies to meet client requirements, whether it involves warehousing or self-storage solutions, so I expect many buildings will be repurposed to address these needs soon.
There are still many questions on how adaptive reuse will function in the big box retail sector and in suburban offices. In different regions of the United States, people are attempting to determine the feasibility of transforming these spaces into residential buildings. At Hernandez Construction & Development, we are exploring the potential for self-storage options due to the increasing demand resulting from population growth. Additionally, as distribution modernizes, older legacy buildings with lower clear heights and fewer dock doors will likely be repurposed as well. The asset classes that we focus on are some of those with the highest current demand. These assets or categories include industrial, self-storage, and multifamily. With ongoing demand, we expect significant growth.
Which among the latest construction industry trends is poised to gather momentum in Broward County?
Hernandez: There is a significant focus on green building practices, with an increasing number of projects incorporating renewable energy sources, energy-efficient designs, and sustainable materials to reduce their environmental impact.
We have a comprehensive ESG program that includes promoting sustainability, social responsibility, and sound governance practices, as well as a range of environmental efforts focused on reducing the company’s carbon footprint, conserving resources, and minimizing waste. Our goal is to strengthen our position as a leading provider of sustainable real estate solutions and enhance positive social impacts in the communities where we work.
Regarding technology, our focus lies on the integration of various components into our ProCore platform so that everything from business development to the entire development, due diligence, and construction processes are in the same place. ProCore offers access for users, developers, clients, and interior designers, providing benefits for all stakeholders, so it is a win-win for everyone. Given the shortage of personnel and the issue of expertise dilution within the construction industry, it becomes crucial for our platforms to be strong and robust. This strength enables us to effectively train new people and maintain consistent outcomes.
We are also exploring the utilization of AI for various purposes, ranging from drafting job descriptions to expanding our platforms and integrating more technology. AI even aids us in creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and developing training modules for new employees. Investing in our platform has been key in establishing training modules, SOPs, and other tools in place to mentor and train our new employees.
Hooper: Our real estate endeavors span beyond residential and retail projects to include restaurants. Our long-term goal is to establish locations easily accessible on foot and offer a walkable atmosphere for our customers and employees. Additionally, our buildings are constructed with modern standards, prioritizing a healthy environment, energy efficiency, air quality, and connectivity. We embrace projects like the Hines’ T3 offices (Transit, Timber, and Technology) to achieve sustainable practices and attract technology and creative companies. This new way of working involves developing near public transit options to provide people with a carbon-free alternative and to work in a clean and healthy environment. If we’re going to go to the office, make it a place that you enjoy and feel good about. If we as a community commit to using sustainable materials and incorporating innovative designs, it will help us set the bar for a more modern and healthy future.
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