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The Annual Real Estate Issue

2020

DRONES ON THE

RISE

MANAGING AN AIRBNB

WHAT’S NEW IN

DEVELOPMENT

Green Energy +ON THE MARKET A REAL ESTATE SECTION


REAL ESTATE LAW GROUP

Introducing Pensacola’s new name for client-focused real estate law. Our team of highly experienced attorneys is united by a vision to build our Gulf Coast communities and enhance Pensacola’s quality of life. (850) 972-9900 MoorheadLaw.com

Bill McEachern Attorney

REAL ESTATE LAW

Jay Fraiser Partner

Steve Moorhead Managing Partner

Anna-Marie Forshee Attorney

COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LAW

Steve Walker Attorney

BUSINESS LAW


Your Local, Hometown Lender Angela Lane

Executive Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #1249678

850.776.6094

Angela.Lane@SoutheastMortgage.com SoutheastMortgage.com/AngelaLane

Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc NMLS#103956 Fl #MLD718 244 E. Intendencia St Pensacola, Fl 32502 800-344-8788(ext.495)


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CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR 2020 NEW MEMBERS Warren Averett, one of the largest public accounting and business consulting firms in the Southeast, is pleased to announce the promotion of five exemplary professionals to Members of the Firm.

Congratulations to Niki Dean, Warren Averett’s newest Member of the Firm in Pensacola!

NIKI DEAN

BRYAN R. DEES

DAVID FOREMAN

ALLIE TSCHIRHART

ADAM WEST

Audit, Pensacola

Tax, Tampa

Asset Management, Birmingham

Tax, Tampa

Tax, Birmingham

CPA

CPA

CFP®

CPA

CPA

Florida | Alabama | Georgia | warrenaverett.com/newmembers

Home & Auto go together. Like you & a good neighbor. Michael Johnson, Agent 3127 E Langley Avenue Pensacola, FL 32504 Bus: 850-478-7748 www.michaeljohnsonagency.com

1601975

Some things in life just go together. Like home and auto insurance from State Farm®. And you with a good neighbor to help life go right. Save time and money. CALL ME TODAY.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, State Farm Indemnity Company, Bloomington, IL State Farm County Mutual Insurance Company of Texas, Dallas, TX State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, State Farm General Insurance Company, Bloomington, IL State Farm Florida Insurance Company, Winter Haven, FL State Farm Lloyds, Richardson, TX


The Real Estate Tradition of Excellence Continues

Sherlyn Waghalter Team DISCOVERNORTHWESTFLORIDA.COM (850) 449-4242 • swaghalter@onthecoasthomes.com

Sherlyn Waghalter has been a highly respected, top producing agent since 2001. After 15 years as Broker/Owner of REMAX on the Coast, Sherlyn’s reseach revealed that Berkshire Hathaway Home Services offered abundant resources to provide her customers with cutting edge real estate service for the next decade. Caroline Waghalter and Cristina Waghalter will join Sherlyn in representing exceptional properties and people! Call, text or email the team to discuss your real esate needs for 2020.


EDITOR’S NOTE When the editorial staff and I at Business Climate started putting content together for this year’s real estate issue, I’ll admit I was worried about what real estate related stories we could write about. But Pensacola, you made it relatively easy on me this year. There was such a plethora of new developments in Pensacola that we had to write an entire article with a list of summaries about each project. You can find this list under “What’s New in Development.” Pensacola’s newest trend seems to be mixed-use developments. Experts agree that this type of development offers numerous benefits to downtown communities such as increased community identity, accessibility and affordable housing options. Savoy Place apartments will have a commercial 1st floor and will offer the downtown lifestyle at a competitive price—$985 and $1395 for one and two-bedroom apartments. The freshly constructed Imperium has commercial condos on its ground floor and two-story townhomes above. The Beulah area has been growing exponentially ever since Navy Federal planted its roots there. Inspire luxury apartments are coming to the Beulah area along with commercial properties. Several other residential properties are popping up in Beulah and a Publix shopping center is set to open there in spring 2021. An I-10 interchange is set to be built there in several years, too. We also included stories about ways to invest in your property. Solar panels are an alternative to electric energy, so we spoke with several solar companies from all over Pensacola about the process for installing solar on your property as well as its costs and benefits. Investing in an Airbnb can be tricky and costly when you haven’t done your research. We spoke with local experts to learn strategies for running your own successful vacation rental. Lastly, this issue’s cover was shot by the drone company Pelican Drones. Drone photography might be the upper hand that your property needs to grab potential buyers’ attention. You can read about the benefits of drone photography later in this issue.

OWNERS Malcolm & Glenys Ballinger PUBLISHER Malcolm Ballinger malcolm@ballingerpublishing.com EXECUTIVE EDITOR Kelly Oden kelly@ballingerpublishing.com ART DIRECTOR Guy Stevens guy@ballingerpublishing.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER | AD COORDINATOR Garrett Hallbauer garrett@ballingerpublishing.com EDITOR Gina Castro ginac@ballingerpublishing.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Dakota Parks dakota@ballingerpublishing.com EDITORIAL INTERNS Josh McGovern Sean Williams CONTRIBUTING WRITERS DeeDee Davis Emily Echevarria Eric Milstead SALES & MARKETING Paula Rode, Account Executive paula@ballingerpublishing.com Geneva Strange, Account Executive geneva@ballingerpublishing.com Becky Hildebrand, Account Executive becky@ballingerpublishing.com

If you would like to keep up with Pensacola’s most recent business ventures and developments, follow us on Twitter @PensClimate.

G. Castro

314 N. Spring St. | Pensacola, FL 32501 850.433.1166 | fax: 850.435.9174 ballingerpublishing.com NW Florida’s Business Climate Magazine and Pensacola Magazine is locally owned and operated. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction or use of the contents herein is prohibited without written permission from the publisher. Comments and opinions expressed in this magazine represent the personal views of the individuals to whom they are attributed and/or the person identified as the author of the article, and they are not necessarily those of the publisher. This magazine accepts no responsibility for these opinions. The publisher reserves the right to edit all manuscripts. All advertising information is the responsibility of the individual advertiser. Appearance in this magazine does not necessarily reflect endorsement of any products or services by Ballinger Publishing. © 2020

8 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate


A reactivation project inspired by unique placemaking, community growth, and the City of Pensacola’s great history.

Connectivity Connectivity Located in the heart of downtown Pensacola at Palafox Street, Garden Street, Jefferson Street, and Chase Street, the East Garden District is inspired by inimitable placemaking, community, and the historic activation of a historic block.

History History Over 250 years ago, a city plan was developed for Pensacola by Elias Durnford that still inspires today! The EGD project will showcase a landscaping, streetscaping, and planting plan unique to the City of Pensacola, and befitting of the garden lots originally planned by Durnford for Garden Street.

Placemaking Placemaking Anchored by a new boutique style hotel with rooftop bar, the EGD is committed to growing the opportunity to “Live, Work & Play” in Pensacola.

Final Mark

Restaurants

Final Mark

Retail

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Residences

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Final Mark

Hotel & More!

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Explore the EGD at EASTGARDENDISTRICT.COM

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CONTENTS MORE THAN JUST A BED 13 The Pensacola Airbnb market continues to grow but remains under fire from state legislation.

THE MAKING OF A NEW DOWNTOWN DISTRICT 16 How placemaking is the key element of the East Garden District.

WEST MAIN MASTER PLAN PROJECT

Studer Properties’ West Main Master Plan project uses market research study to propel the plan forward.

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MAKING A SPLASH 22 A new form of vacationing is on the rise in Milton.

NEW HEIGHTS

Pelican Drones is using drones to provide premium aerial photography and videography for listings.

THE RISE OF GREEN ENERGY

Several local solar companies explain the benefits and functions of solar panels.

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MIXING UP DOWNTOWN 32

Mary’s Square is an Local brothers openexisting mixed-use small park in the Maritime Parcel development Imperium. hat currently suffers from a lack of firm active edges. Here, anked by two 5NEW to 6-story buildings, the open space is actiWHAT’S IN ated byDEVELOPMENT 35 2-story galleries holding shops and restaurants. The A of Pensacola’s latest residential esidentiallistunits above can provide loggias and terraces to take and commercial developments. dvantage of waterfront views.

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COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK

44

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK

46

Commercial realtor DeeDee Davis gives her outlook for 2020.

Realtor Eric Milstead examines Pensacola’s booming housing market.

SPECIAL SECTIONS:

ON THE MARKET a real estate section PAGE 53

COVER: photographed by Pelican Drones

10 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

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COMMERICAL

COMMERICAL

Palafox St.

2 3 4 5 7

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Belmont St

DELAWARE

NORTH CAROLINA

TENNESSEE

SOUTH CAROLINA

MISSISSIPPI

GEORGIA ALABAMA

FLORIDA


MORE THAN

JUST A BED

Airbnb Property Investments by Dakota Parks • photos by Guy Stevens We all want the same things while traveling: clean sheets, a cozy bed, convenient, safe and affordable lodging locations. But what exactly makes a memorable experience for guests? The high thread count sheets? Complimentary coffee? We spoke to local experts about the influx of Airbnb rental investment properties in the Pensacola region. When the founders of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky first created the website (and later app) in 2008, they were short on rent and looking for a solution. They seized their opportunity when a design conference in San Francisco created a shortage of hotel rooms. Both Gebbia and Chesky purchased a few blow-up air mattresses and listed their website called “Air Bed and Breakfast.” Although the company

struggled during its initial years, it is now valued around $38 billion with more than 6 million listings in more than 100,000 cities worldwide, according to Business Insider. The Airbnb platform has exploded with listings. In Pensacola, you can find everything from a $10 a night tent-stay, to a retro RV, customized tiny-house school bus, small cottages and even luxury mother-in-law suites for rent. However, something has changed about Airbnb in recent years. The platform is no longer just a spare room-letting website—it has become a platform for property investors. People are buying property and renovating it for the sole purpose of creating Airbnb rentals and extra income. In 2017, the number of guests utilizing Airbnb rentals in Florida grew by 75% with 2.7 million guests in the state. By 2019, the number of guests has grown

to 6.6 million with a statewide host revenue of $1.2 billion, according to Forbes. Data from the market research company AirDNA shows that the number of Airbnb listings in Pensacola grew from roughly 1,000 listings at the start of 2019 to 1,500 by the end of the year. Not only did the number of active Airbnb rentals increase, but the number of booked listings also increased from 6,000 to 16,000 with higher numbers in the summer months. Kevin Fox, the founder of Foxy Vacations, a boutique rental management company specializes in guest service and rental revenue maximization for its owners. “We live in a destination city. People come from all over the country to enjoy what we have here, so having a vacation rental allows people to come from the outside and invest into our nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 13


MORE THAN JUST A BED rental properties. Unlike long-term leases, short-term rentals have dozens of people in and out of the property, each with different needs and expectations. Managers cover guest service and ensure that the property is yielding its highest earning potential.

community and economy. The great thing about a vacation rental is that it’s a tangible asset. You don’t have to have a renter in the property all the time. If you want to use it yourself for part of the year, you can decide which dates to use it to maximize your own revenue. One thing that drives people to a vacation rental as opposed to a hotel is that they’re not in a 300 square foot space with a mini fridge and a microwave. Vacation rentals allow families to travel at a better value,” explained Fox. Airbnb provides free Host Protection Insurance covering liability claims up to $1 million USD. They also allow hosts to set parameters for booking including a vetting process that requires renters to show photo ID and provide reviews from previous hosts. However, there are additional steps owners can take for protecting their property including a separate liability insurance policy, designing furnishings for rental wear and tear, and hiring a property manager to overlook the property and guests. Sherlyn Waghalter, broker/associate with Berkshire Hathaway PenFed Realty explained some pros and cons of shortterm rentals. “Short term rentals are very labor intensive. The owner needs to have 14 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

an array of resources for cleaning, maintenance, etc. It is not the norm, but there are nightmare situations when a property is damaged by spring breakers or a rowdy group, so the proper liability insurance needs to be in place. However, Pensacola Beach and Downtown Pensacola are hot areas for Airbnb rentals. Tourism in our area is up! The tourists need a place to stay! Some people buy a property with the intention of using it as an Airbnb/VRBO investment property. Interest rates are low—driving the increase for real estate investments,” explained Waghalter. According to Airbnb’s public website tool, they estimate that renters can earn up to $1,648 a month in Pensacola with an estimated 15 nights booked a month. However, as both Waghalter and Fox explained, the revenue and return on investment for vacation rentals is determined by a variety of factors including location, mortgage amount, insurance, taxes, repairs, property cleanup between renters and even noticing rental trends to maximize revenue at certain times of the year. While realtors can help investors navigate the rental market and pick properties with high investment opportunity, property managers take the guesswork out of managing Airbnb and short-term

“My company is full-service, turnkey,” explained Fox. “We take care of everything from coordinating when the furnishings will be delivered, to the pictures, marketing, setting up nightly rates, finding calendar rental anomalies and taking care of the guests from check in to check out. We answer all of their questions before they get here, once they arrive, we make sure they get into the property smoothly and while they’re here, we make sure their expectations are exceeded in every aspect of the stay. Then, upon check out we send over our housekeepers to clean and inspect it for our next guest. We even take care of maintenance items and landscaping.” One of the startup expenses for Airbnb property is creating a brand and designing the space. The design and “name-recognition” is crucial to creating a memorable rental experience. Branding a space and creating a name for a property creates repeat business and helps renters remember and recommend the property. Connie Crosby, the interior designer at Constance Crosby Interiors, Inc. recently designed an upscale Airbnb in the historic district of Pensacola. Located on South Alcaniz Street just a few doors up from Hub Stacey’s, the property was built in 1865 and remodeled with the history, location and utility of the property in mind.


The exterior of the cottage received a full facelift to ensure a welcoming atmosphere—fresh paint on the wrought iron fencing, exterior paint colors dating back the original cottage, along with flowers, gas lanterns and landscaping. The back patio features a bonfire pit and gathering area for guests. Inside, Crosby has retained the historic elements of the home while ensuring that it functions properly as a rental and maintains some Pensacola-inspired charm. “I knew the owners liked a coastal feel, and when we discussed the history of the cottage, I felt like it needed to be light, bright and as open as possible. It’s an adequate size, but it’s not huge. For instance, we had the ceiling lifted in the living room which gave it a great, airy feeling. As far as design elements, we furnished it with good, solid furniture that is resistant to wear and tear and fully washable bedding that coordinated with the color scheme,” explained Crosby. From designing bigger and taller closets that can accommodate suitcases and long wedding gowns to locally crafted ceramics in the bathrooms that are resistant to moisture, the design of the Airbnb was deeply rooted in utility and functionality. Crosby even designed a private dressing room space for bridal parties to get ready in.

“One thing that drives people to a vacation rental as opposed to a hotel is that they’re not in a 300 square foot space with a mini fridge and a microwave. Vacation rentals allow families to travel at a better value.”

Showcasing cities is something that Airbnb does very well. While Airbnb is just one of many third-party rental companies, it has revolutionized the rental market. The platform has allowed an endless number of spare bedrooms to get rented, but it has also allowed investors to come into a wide variety of neighborhoods from “up-and-coming” to Pensacola’s own historic district to increase the foot traffic and tourism.

However, vacation rentals and Airbnb properties may be at jeopardy with Florida legislative bills such as SB 1128, introduced to the Senate in January 2020, that seeks to preemptively regulate

vacation rentals at the state level. If passed, the bill would override local laws and ordinances that currently tolerate Airbnb and vacation rentals, instead requiring rentals to adhere to the same licensing, regulations and inspections as the hotel and business industries. While short-term rentals are vital to Florida’s economy, they have also received backlash from residents that live next to them and from renters for being unregulated. Despite the controversy, the market is currently thriving. Only time will tell if the proposed legislation will impact the sheer growth of Airbnb properties in both the Sunshine State as a whole and the Pensacola region.

This upscale Airbnb incorporates Pensacola’s urban, coastal look.

“I think renters want a memorable experience and people want good design because it achieves just that. Everything has to function well. The design depends on the structure of the home and what type of look can be achieved. An urban look, a sophisticated coastal look, a basic cottage look—I think owners need to consider the property and where it is located as to what design they want,” said Crosby. Location was very important to the furnishings in the South Alcaniz Street Airbnb. Crosby worked with local artists to incorporate a classy, coastal look. They included hanging artwork from local artists throughout the cottage, ceramics in the bathrooms and even photographs of the Blue Angels and other Pensacola landmarks to showcase the city and location. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 15


THE MAKING OF A NEW DOWNTOWN DISTRICT How Placemaking is the Key Element in East Garden District by Gina Castro Where do you stay when you visit vibrant cities like New Orleans or Miami? Do you stay in a hotel eons away from all of the action? Of course not. You find a spot a couple of blocks from interesting landmarks, inviting bars and restaurants and whatever else the city has to offer. Whenever there is a city heavy with history and culture, you can’t help but want to explore it. The element that lures you to those busy, welcoming parts of towns is placemaking. Placemaking is designing a city or community with the intention of catering to people. “You certainly can seek out a place to stay that just checks the box of a hotel room, but then there are other places to stay that will check more boxes of being ingrained within the district or the community that it serves as a magnet for the district,” Henderson said.

That people-centered aspect is what Chad Henderson is hoping to accomplish through the East Garden District (EGD). Henderson hopes to make the East Garden District hotel the space Pensacola visitors will gravitate toward to feel ingrained within the district and Pensacola community. Henderson calls the hotel “the anchor” of this development because it will not only draw tourists to EGD and the rest of downtown but also it will be a space for locals to enjoy. “I travel quite a bit throughout the country. For me, when I’m traveling, I always seek out the local experience,” Henderson said. “I want this hotel to be that for the folks traveling to Pensacola. If you want great local flavor, this hotel within the East Garden District would be a place to stay and not only explore the East Garden District but explore the greater downtown and all it has to offer.”

16 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

Although Henderson and his team are not ready to announce the brand or soft flag of the hotel, Henderson did share more details about their plan for the hotel. The hotel, which will be at the corner of Chase and Jefferson Street, will have at least six floors, approximately 150 rooms, some event space, a rooftop bar and a very inviting lobby with food and beverages available for tourists and locals to enjoy. Henderson’s plan for a street diet, which narrows the street and expands the sidewalks, for Jefferson Street is making progress with the City. This diet will increase the walkability and safety of EGD for visitors. Henderson recently announced that construction for the first EGD building is underway. The Well, which shares a wall with the brewery Perfect Plain, is a wood cellar aging program that will serve aged beer and cocktails. DC Reeves, the owner of Perfect Plain and Garden and Grain, decided to be a part of the EGD development by opening The Well. Reeves

opened Perfect Plain in November of 2017, which was before Henderson’s plans for EGD came to the surface. “We feel like we took a leap of faith by not being on the main drag,” Reeves said. “We were not 100 percent sure how we would be embraced in the beginning. We certainly envisioned that area [EGD] has the potential to be a new downtown district. We feel like East Garden District makes a lot of sense to be this new, up and coming place for people to gather. I’m really excited about EGD and even more excited that somebody like Chad, who is passionate about our community, is stepping up and investing in an area we want to make great.” Reeves has a history of tying the historical background of Garden Street to his businesses. Perfect Plain was named after the way Rachel Jackson, wife of Andrew Jackson, described Pensacola in 1821. The name Garden and Grain was inspired by the law in the 1760s which gave property owners north of Garden Street a residual


has worn many hats since. The Well will be a total of 3,600 square feet, and 800 square feet will be reserved for barrel storage space. The other 2,500 square feet will be dedicated to the bar and seating area. “Our goals were to maintain historic and structural integrity of this building and then also meet our clients needs and wants,” Principal Architect of Dalrymple Sallis Architecture Scott Sallis said. “The end result was keeping the building but trying to create a warm cozy elegant atmosphere inside. It’s going to intentionally contrast Perfect Plain.” Reeves said his newest space will definitely be the more

The Well, located next door to Perfect Plain, will have dark romantic tones and is a total of 3,600 square feet.

The Well and Perfect Plain. Reeves said that the drink menu at The Well will be more on the rare side. The beers will be aged in big french oak barrels, known as foeders, which can contain about 300 gallons. The Well will also be aging cocktails for months at a time as part of its refined, unique cocktail program. So, when customers come in, they will be able to taste locally-made aged beer, which is a first in Pensacola. “We are excited about bringing something new and different to our community in the form of the first expansion barrel program,” Reeves said. The Well will also offer a menu of tapas. Although The Well will be the first project to launch within the EGD development, Sallis said that The Well’s design will not set the stage for the overall design of EGD because there is no overseeing style for EGD. “What we hope to accomplish with the East Garden District is a very eclectic collection of architectural style, so there is no overseeing,” Sallis said. However, Sallis said that they will be very intentional about the inclusion of planters and grow walls throughout the district and The Well as part of an effort to tie the district to the history of Garden Street or as Reeves says “bring the garden back to Garden Street.” Reeves said that they plan to open The Well in the fall.

garden lot. Reeves decided on the name The Well because of how settlers from the 1800s repurposed beer and wine barrels into water wells. Reeves said that UWF found a couple of well-preserved barrels in the area, too. The Well will be in the building next door to Perfect Plain. This warehouse used to house the Melting Pot decades ago and

refined space out of his three properties. The Well will have darker tones for a more romantic setting, but Reeves said the space will still have conversational seating areas, or “living rooms” as Sallis described, to maintain the communal vibe of the district. The designs of the buildings is not the only contrast between

Lastly, Henderson said that they will be announcing the fine dining restaurant that will be at the corner of Garden and Jefferson Streets, which will be 36 East Garden St. The restaurant will be 4,335 square feet with indoor and outdoor seating. To find out more about the EGD vision, visit eastgardendistrict.com.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 17


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MARKET STUDY SHOWS THE BENEFITS OF THE WEST MAIN MASTER PLAN PROJECT

Renderings courtesy of Speck & Associates and DPZ CoDesign

by Emily Echevarria Downtown Pensacola’s growth over the last decade has brought the core of the city to life with eateries, retail and the bustling activity during regular events like the year round Palafox Market, monthly Gallery Nights and festive holiday celebrations that close out the year. New residential offerings from the Southtowne apartment development have been a recent boon to the area. However, the 258 units still only partially meet the demonstrably high demand for housing options near downtown. Just west of the vibrant downtown is an area ripe for development, and that area is currently poised for a similarly explosive growth in what is called the West Main Master Plan project. The parcels of land under discussion in the West Main Master Plan include the 18.54 acres formerly owned by ECUA; several unused parcels of land on the publicly-owned Community Maritime Park property, which include the current Maritime Park parking area and adjacent green space; and lastly, the smaller parcels adjacent to the stadium and along the waterfront. This plan has been developed with the guidance of several former CiviCon event speakers in mind – especially, the idea that sustained growth requires long-term planning and buyin from the City, the public and investors. Studer Properties, owned by local entrepreneur and

philanthropist Quint Studer, signed an 18-month lease to complete research and create the master plan, which is meant to link the waterfront Maritime Park to the former ECUA property across Main Street. The plan includes residential amenities, retail and restaurant space, as well as greater pedestrian access and connectivity to and along the waterfront. The apartments would follow the lead of Southtowne by utilizing mixeduse retail and restaurant space Mary’s Square is an existing small park in the Maritime Parcel on the first floor with residential accomplish the goals of of keeping well as Here, general market that currently suffers from a lack firm activeasedges. apartments above, and a flanked byand our buildings, talent?” the open strength also listed as tworetaining 5 to 6-story space were is actiparking deck in the middle for the vated by 2-story galleries holding shops and positives restaurants. Theproject’s hidden from immediate view by The forprovide the market potential. challenges for residential unitsevaluation above can loggias and terracesThe to take the liner buildings. advantagepotential of waterfront views. for the West Main the project included the still development included analysis emerging downtown residential A market research study was of local demographic and market and the need for site completed in February and economic trends, interviews remediation of the larger March 2019 by real estate with stakeholders and business northern property. There are advisory services firm regarding owners, extensive housing several recommendations the challenges and positive market research, and even for changes in zoning for potential on development research into the potential the area, including changing projects in the parcels on the for an aquarium that could the definition of height Maritime Park campus and the be developed on the site or requirements from 60 feet former ECUA property. elsewhere along the waterfront. to six stories. Another The 123-page report is available recommendation increases President of Studer Properties in PDF format online. the percentage of the lot Andrew Rothfeder said that the that can be used for building July Speckstudy & Associates / DPZ CoDesign 2019 research for the creation of the9, 2019 The| ©market is space from 75 percent to 95 plan included market research, overwhelmingly positive. percent, which makes more site visits, public input, as well The study cited that the sense in a suburban context, as revisiting previous plans that success of Southtowne and Rothfeder said. Several smaller have been created for the area. the overflowing demand for adjustments to the zoning downtown housing as a positive are also part of the changes “They take all those inputs and for an apartment development. making their way through they design what is the optimal However, the study noted a the city planning board and project for downtown Pensacola challenge in differentiating city council approval process, for this site,” Rothfeder the new apartment from its which should be complete by said. “For the benefit of the groundbreaking predecessor: the end of February. community, the taxpayers, Southtowne apartments. the residents and the citizens, Positive demographic trends Rothfeder said that getting what kind of project is going to and employment growth the master plan in place nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 19


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Plan Elements Formalized connections to Bruce Beach Baskerville-Donovan Market pavilion & plaza Nick’s Boathouse Reclaimed beach Pedestrian passage Formalized access to the water Potential hotel block Covered pedestrian passage Mixed-use liner buildings 10,000 sq.ft. ground-floor grocer Stair tower terminating important views Mixed-use building Private courtyard Mary’s Square Raised promenade Roof top pool with water views Existing seawall promenade Day marina docks Pavered drop-off plaza Stormwater retention pond Raised Boardwalk - Extension of Cedar St Studer Office Building Luxury tower overlooking Fetterman Field

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the waterfront is an underused asset. While recent efforts have opened access to Bruce Beach, Street downtown’s 60-year-old accessible Cedar beach, the waterfront remains disjointed and underutilized. A future for the West Main area envisioned by the Master Plan project could potentially include a connected waterfront, an active beach where kayakers and paddleboarders make use of the waterway, and residents can walk downstairs from their apartments to visit shops and restaurants on the ground floor, or visit a concert at the amphitheatre overlooking the bay.

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Maritime Park

Maritime Parcel Detail Annotated Plan

July 9, 2019 | © Speck & Associates / DPZ CoDesign 2019

was a step toward courting investors who want to be assured that any development they invest in on the property is poised for the type of quality, sustained growth that a master plan could ensure. Hoteliers and various types of residential developers have shown interest, and with these amenities, retail and restaurants would bring the vibrancy of a mixed-use urban space that is desirable to both retirees and young people looking for a place to live. Rothfeder said that Studer’s research extended to other southeastern cities with vibrant urban cores like Asheville, NC, or Charleston, SC.

“We’re getting interest from people outside this community who are now seeing Pensacola pop up on their radar as a really attractive place for investment and development, so that’s super exciting,” he said. “Eight years ago, we’re going to those places to learn and now they’re coming here.” The current growth of the Palafox corridor has shown that development in the downtown space can be successful, and that’s without even fully harnessing the unique attributes of the area. Rothfeder said that past CiviCon speakers have spent time downtown and commented that

20 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

“What the research shows is that capital follows talent, and talent follows place,” Rothfeder said. “Sense of place, authenticity is becoming most important on the list, so younger people are making a decision of what community they want to live in and then they’ll find a job when they get there. Human capital and talent, that’s what 83 drives a city forward.” Another challenge is a disconnect in the West Main Master Plan project area from the core retail area on Palafox. While the sites are only four blocks from that central shopping district, on a sunny day in summer, that relatively short distance may be untenable along busy Main Street. Fortunately, a separate development plan aims to improve upon the connectivity and walkability of the waterfront and could potentially mitigate this challenge in the future. The Pensacola Waterfront Framework Plan is a philanthropic effort by

Quint and his wife Rishy Studer who invited SCAPE, a New York-based design-driven landscape architecture and urban design studio, to create a plan for the waterfront of downtown Pensacola. As recommendations for the West Main Master Plan complete approval and more specific development plans come under consideration likely starting this spring, there will be continuing opportunities for public commentary. With the intention of drawing and keeping talent in Pensacola, each building, or development, will go through the process of input and approval by the planning board and city council. This ongoing effort between various stakeholders and the City builds on multiple efforts to expand the growth of downtown and make use of its full potential. “Not only is it in the downtown core, in our 450-year-old, authentic city but it’s also on the water, and then you tie that in to some other projects that I know the City is talking about right now,” Rothfeder said. “It’s a lot of exciting things, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve: another reason for people to want to call Pensacola home.”

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RV PARK GEARS UP TO MAKE A

Splash IN MILTON

by Josh McGovern

Tucked away in Florida’s northern corner, a new type of park is on the upswing as the more affordable alternative to south Florida amusement parks. Disney and Busch Gardens, as well as Universal and Islands of Adventure, hold tremendous capital in Orlando and Tampa and have been the pinnacle family experience for decades. But for Pensacola residents looking for family fun closer to home, RV parks are the way to go. Craig Kruse, known for his real estate and commercial projects in the Panhandle, seized an opportunity. The Navarre-based businessman and owner of the Santa Rosa RV Park hopes to draw in weary travellers heading for Disney. Their stop? Milton, Florida, the small Panhandle town east of Pensacola. “The opportunity presented itself. The property is absolutely beautiful,” Craig Kruse said of his property. “Something that’s not been done around here, so we’re excited. Long time coming, man.” At the corner of Interstate 10 and Highway 87, Splash RV Park will feature a number of high-end amenities: a scenic lazy river, zipline, numerous pools, dog parks, an amphitheater, more than 80 bungalows and a wedding chapel. Newlyweds won’t have to go far as Splash plans to have honeymoon cottages. There will also be the option to rent out kayaking equipment for those wanting a little adventure on the lake. Splash park’s location will put visitors within close

22 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

proximity to Navarre Beach. Splash RV Park will also feature a unique form of lodging. Craig Kruse plans to bring in a dozen covered wagons equipped with air conditioning, bunk beds, and/or queen sized beds. It’s clear the 50 acre, $14 million development is anything but small, which something that could spell danger for Splash in Milton. Despite Milton being a small homegrown town, its residents do not have small voices. Late in 2019, a different luxury RV park set to open in Milton found trouble parking itself in the community after a rezoning proposal faced tough resistance. It was subsequently denied and the project’s development halted in its tracks. The development team will have to forego another twelve month waiting period-the best case scenario being six months-before they can have another chance at passing the rezoning proposal. Despite legal resistance, some Milton residents support new developments. Bill

Sonny Garland, a current Milton resident, spoke up in favor of Splash RV park. “I think this is great! The RV community is growing so much in recent years and they all need more accessible hook-up sites,” Bill said. He continued and reminded those of us looking in from the outside that the RV parks can be just as essential to working men and women as much as they may be a necessity to vacationing families. “We are members of a group of 1,000 missionaries that travel the USA and Canada working with our churches, children’s homes, bible camps and colleges. Sixty percent of these volunteers live full time in the RVs. We have our home office in Marshall, Texas right on the interstate and another main campus we have is in Mount Dora, Florida. We bought a home right off Avalon so they could stop by while traveling between these two locations. I think it’s great.” Splash RV resort garnered enough support in a tide of change to keep it alive and with an expected 2021 opening date, barring the summer threat of hurricanes. Travelling homes in Milton can expect more than just a place to park. At the corner of Interstate 10 and Highway 87, a destination resort is on its way.


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DRONES SEND REAL ESTATE TO NEW HEIGHTS

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N RECENT YEARS, DRONES HAVE BEEN USED FOR A WIDE RANGE OF THINGS. They have been used by the military for surveillance beyond enemy lines. They have been used for entertainment and have even become a popular Christmas present that can connect to WIFI and be controlled by your smartphone. Drones have been used for monetary purposes, too. In 2013, Amazon released a concept video where it used drones to deliver packages to customers. Today, companies across the nation are using drones in commercial and residential real estate. Pelican Drones, a company based out of Pensacola, is using drones to provide premium aerial photography, videography and industrial drone services. by Gina Castro • photo by Chris Tonn/Pelican Drones

“It’s a great tool to highlight the surrounding amenities and businesses, places of interest or water proximity,” Pelican Drones owner Chris Ton said. “It’s the full package here because in Florida, we have so much water, golf courses and neat natural resources, but to add a little bit more of a punch to the listing, an aerial shot goes a long way.” Pelican Drones uses drones to take aerial photos or cinema quality videos of homes or businesses to capture the entire property. You can use Pelican Drones to show how close your home or business is to schools, the beach, interstates or night life. Pelican Drones can also enhance your video project with voice-over, text overlay, licensed music and 3D animations. Multiple Listing Services nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 25


DRONES SEND REAL ESTATE TO NEW HEIGHTS

(MLS) statistics shows that properties that include aerial imagery are 68 percent more likely to sell than properties without aerial imagery. “Drone photos really help your listing stand out. I think that’s the biggest point,” Ton said. “Everyone wants to stand out on Google, Zillow and MLS, and to do it properly, your iPhone just can’t compete with the level of drone professional HDR interior ground stills and full-blend marketing video. It really sets you apart in this digital age.” “What we’re getting back from our clients is nothing but repeat requests for us to keep doing what we’re doing to their high end home, boats and yacht listings,” Ton said. “We’ve seen properties with over million dollar price points move as fast as a week after seeing the imagery.” Pelican Drones offers several styles of drones. They have heavy lift film drones to a more day to day real

26 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

estate and construction related drone, which doesn’t have as much noise and doesn’t require as much set up time. When someone calls in for a real estate inquiry, Ton said that they go over a menu of real estate related services which includes everything from drone photos to a full blown walk through video or a 3D 360 tour. Once you have selected the service you want, Pelican Drones schedules a date with good weather to do the shoot. They also discuss the properties best selling points and make a plan of action to focus on those areas. If you do decide to use drones to showcase your property, make sure the company you go through is licensed through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and insured with an aviation policy. The civil penalties for utilizing a drone for commercial purposes without first obtaining a remote pilot’s certificate from the FAA are up to $32,666 for each incidence.

“There are a lot of things to understand when flying in local airspaces like Pensacola,” Ton said. “We’re surrounded by an international airport, a navy base, the helicopter flight training center for the navy that buzzes all along the beaches and everywhere else, so it’s certainly something you’re going to want to utilize a professional in the area for this service.” FAA’s website also states that if a drone interferes with wildfire suppression, law enforcement or emergency response efforts, whether it was deliberately or recklessly, the pilot can be imposed with a $20,000 civil penalty per violation. Ton said that Pelican Drones is completely licensed with an FAA part 107 licenses. If you are interested in learning more about Pelican Drones, go to their website www.pelicandrones.com.


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E S I R E TH GREEN F O RGY E EN by

aC Gi n

As discussions about climate change and environmental stability have become more and more prevalent, some states are establishing laws to help create a more environmentally conscientious society. California made solar panels mandatory for new homes built after 2020, and New York City requires any roofs undergoing major construction to be covered in solar panels or a green roof system. Solar panels create clean, renewable power without the use of fossil fuels or release of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. 28 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

o astr

Although the state of Florida has little to no laws regarding solar panels, recent laws and damage from hurricanes have increased the price of electricity, which has made solar panels a favorable alternative to electricity. When Hurricane Michael hit, dozens of Florida cities were left without power, so the Senate passed bill 797 which allows utility companies to charge customers for any and all storm protection projects. Although this law will better prepare utility companies for storms, the House estimated the long term costs of storm-hardening could be as high as $30 billion. Florida’s utility regulator approved rate increases for Gulf Power customers to reimburse the company for its power restoration efforts. Gulf Power, which has some 460,000 customers across eight Northwest Florida counties, increased consumer’s monthly bills by $8 per thousand kilowatt hours. “On top of that, we’re seeing a national inflation rate of about three to four percent on a United States scale,” Meraki Regional Manager Robert Reid said. “Most recently, rates went up about nine percent due to hurricane Michael— $342 million rate hike over the next five years. Although Gulf Power is reliable, the cost that they have to toss onto us— no fault to Gulf Power they are a business— is too costly. At the end of the day, there are alternative ways to produce the same amount of energy but at a cheaper cost.” Pensacola is a prime area for solar panels not only because Pensacola is a city within the sunshine state but also because of Gulf Power’s increasing electricity rates. The majority of the solar companies in the area, if not all, offer zero down. Adam Najar, the owner of Suncor Solar, said that because electricity is more costly in the area, companies like his are able to make the payments for solar equipment less than the majority of their customers’ electric bills. “The big thing is that instead of renting your energy with Gulf Power and seeing your rates go up with those


rate hikes, you can go solar. The sun comes up everyday,” Reid said. “You’re just putting in a locked-in rate toward your equipment and not worried about rate hikes.” If you were to pay in full to install solar panels on your home, you would completely remove the cost of your electricity bill because your solar panels would be generating all of your home’s energy. However, you would still have to pay the monthly $17-$21 connection fee to Gulf Power, which is included in all electric bills. The extra electricity that your panels produce that your home doesn’t need will then be sold back to the electric company, as part of Florida’s net metering law. So if you are able to pay for your panels in full, you eliminate your electric bill and can even make money off of them. “Solar is an investment. You’re investing in the ability to generate energy, and electricity is a commodity with a dollar value, so essentially the best return on your investment is 100 percent offset of your consumption,” Sunfarm Energy Owner Doug Herrick said. “The net metering law in the state of Florida requires the utility to pay you retail rate for the energy that you sell back, and they do that in the form of a credit.”

“SOLAR IS AN INVESTMENT. YOU’RE INVESTING IN THE ABILITY TO GENERATE ENERGY, AND ELECTRICITY IS A COMMODITY WITH A DOLLAR VALUE, SO ESSENTIALLY THE BEST RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT IS 100 PERCENT OFFSET OF YOUR CONSUMPTION,” If you can’t purchase the panels in full, you can also get them financed and still save money. In this situation, your monthly electric bill will be replaced with your monthly payment for the solar panels until you pay them off. Because electricity in this area is higher than most areas, these solar companies are able to make the monthly payment for the equipment lower than your electric bill.

hard as a solar company to compete with that electric company. ” Now that we’ve broken down that part, what’s the process? No matter what company you choose to work with or whether your property is commercial or residential, the first thing the solar company has to do is check if the property is eligible. Herrick said that locations with southerly facing roofs and limited shading are ideal. The company will do an energy analysis to gage your consumption of electricity, which will help them determine the number of solar panels you’ll need for the property. As part of the analysis, the company will collect your electric bills from the past 12 months. Once the analysis is complete, the company will then determine if there is enough room on your roof to place the number of panels your property needs to produce the same amount of energy you require. If the number of panels needed doesn’t match the allotted roof space, there are options to do partial electrical and partial solar, or you could install the panels on the ground, garage or shed, but those options are not ideal.

“The more expensive electricity is, the better it is for people to go solar,” Najar said. “That’s why solar in California took off because electricity over there is twice as expensive as it is here, so everyone has solar over there. In Orlando and Tampa, the electricity is so cheap, so it’s super

This issue of limited space is predominantly an issue with commercial properties. “The other thing that comes into commercial is the space,” Najar said. “I have a couple of clients who are very interested in going solar, but the space that they have versus the amount

photos provided by Meraki Solar

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 29


THE RISE OF GREEN ENERGY of power they use doesn’t add up. You could produce 20 percent with solar, and the rest is going to have to come from the power company. That’s not every case, but you will see that more often with commercial.” The process to get solar panels approved for residential properties can happen as early as the same day or as long as a couple of weeks. Once approved, the installation can take between two to three months. However, the process for commercial properties can take months or even years. Najar said that even though the process for commercial is lengthier, commercial deals are the ones who see the biggest return because they qualify for a tax credit, can write it off as an expense, since it is a utility bill, and since it is such a large project, they can get a little bit of a discount on the panels, too. Residential properties can also benefit from the federal solar tax credit, or investment tax credit (ITC). ITC allows both residential and commercial owners to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their federal taxes with no cap, but the ITC is set to expire in 2020. The ITC was originally made to be part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was set to expire in 2007, but extensions throughout the years have kept it from expiring. Herrick, Najar and Reid all said that they are hoping for the tax credit to be renewed once more. Common concerns about investing in solar panels are roof damage due to panel installation, maintenance and potential damage from storms. Solar panels are installed to the roof either through a ballasted racking system or a roof clamp system, and neither require drilling holes in the roof. Herrick confirmed that every solar system is required to have a structural engineering permit and are designed to meet wind codes. Some home insurance includes solar in their plans. As for panel maintenance, companies suggest cleaning them once a year. “Mother nature does a very good job keeping 30 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

“MOTHER NATURE DOES A VERY GOOD JOB KEEPING THE MODULES CLEAN. WE DO RECOMMEND GETTING THE MODULES CLEANED MAYBE ONCE A YEAR, BUT BEYOND THAT, THESE SYSTEMS ARE DESIGNED WITH A 25 YEAR PLUS LIFE SPAN.”

the modules clean,” Herrick said. “We do recommend getting the modules be cleaned maybe once a year, but beyond that, these systems are designed with a 25 year plus life span.” Herrick explained that the panels are made from silica, the second most abundant element on the planet. The silica is melted to the point that a crystal is formed. The crystal is then cut extremely thin and the conductors are wafered in between the crystal sheets. It’s a well-known fact that Pensacola has hurricanes, and hail and excessive wind and rain can wear down roofs, but the solar panels can function as a roadblock between the severe weather and the roof. Herrick said that Sunfarm Energy prefers to install solar systems on the conditioned spaces, such as your home’s roof, because the panels add additional shading and protection for the roof. “In recent experience with hurricane Micheal, the solar panels protected the roof,” Herrick said. “Shingles were torn off only in areas where the solar panels were not at.” The University of California San Diego conducted a study on solar panels and found that panels help reduce the temperature inside the home up to 35 percent. “The southerly facing areas of the home get the most beating from the UV rays, which really damages the roof

over time,” Herrick said. “That’s where we install the systems, so the roof gets additional protection from the panels.” The United States’ residential solar market is at an all time high. The U.S Solar Market Report, from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), stated that in the third quarter of 2019, 712 megawatts of solar were installed, which broke the 2016 national record by 25 megawatts. The Florida panhandle has also seen a spike in the solar panel market. Pensacola’s Naval Air Station is home to Florida’s largest solar energy project. The three largest combined solar facilities on Department of Defense property are located here on the panhandle: the Eglin Air Force Base, NAS and Whiting Field’s (NOLF) Holley Field. All three combined have approximately 1.5 million solar panels, which are capable of generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity. Whether you are interested in investing in solar or are still on the fence about it, the first thing you need to do is research.


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MIXING UP DOWNTOWN

PENSACOLA LOCAL BROTHERS OPEN MIXEDUSE DEVELOPMENT IMPERIUM by Gina Castro

Mixed-use developments are on the rise in downtown Pensacola. A mixeduse development is a combination of residential and non-residential buildings, such as commercial or industrial buildings. This type of development infuses commercial and industrial with residential living to offer a variety of benefits. Studer Properties was one of the first to invest in mixed-use developments. The company spent a whopping $50 million to build Southtowne, a 258-unit apartment complex that opened in 2018. The bottom floor of the property is commercial with restaurants such as SaBai Thai on Jefferson and retail stores such as Bodacious Bookstore and Café and Posh Baby. Studer Properties sold this mixed-use development to Stone Point Capital LLC, a Greenwich, Connecticut company, for $60.63 million in December 2019. Although East Garden District (EGD) has not begun construction yet, they too are investing in mixed-use developments. EGD plans to build a retail and residential property on Jefferson Street. The ground floor will be retail and two-story townhomes will be built above.

Mixed-use developments was one of Mayor Grover Robinson’s major talking points during the Pensacola Association of Realtors Commercial Forum in January. “I think mixed use is a great thing. For the most part, commercial and residential uses are very symbiotic,” Robinson said. “The commercial use provides a service that most people living in the residences need and then the residents provide business for the commercial property. There is a symbiotic relationship that I think can be very good when done the right way.” Brothers and Gulf Breeze natives Paul and Steve Grimes are the developers behind the latest mixed-use development to enter the downtown Pensacola scene. The Imperium is a threefloor building located at 120

32 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

West Government St. Steve moved to California for a career with software sales. Paul made a life for himself in East Hill, where he has been a successful appraiser for the last 20 years. Paul and Steve spent a lot of time in Pensacola growing up, and even after moving from the area, Steve visited Pensacola often. During one of Steve’s visits, the brothers got to talking about finding a vacation home in downtown for Steve. Steve wanted a condominium above a commercial space, but they couldn’t find a property for sale that fit his needs. “We are both big believers in the downtown. We wanted to be a part of it,” Paul said. “But, nothing was for sale, so we thought why don’t we just build something and do it ourselves that way we can have brand new units and add something nice to downtown.” So, the brothers began looking for empty lots in the heart of downtown. Eventually, they found a parking lot across

from the Escambia County Courthouse and began building the Imperium. The architect of the project is Pensacola native Brian Spencer. Spencer believes mixed-use properties are on the rise because of their efficiency. “Mixed-use buildings have been the rule vs. the exception for centuries. Prior to the advent of automobiles and the associated construction of high-speed highways and interstates, the mixture and close proximity of commerce and dwellings provided an efficient use of real estate,” Spencer said. “This efficiency is becoming increasingly desirable today, as people realize the benefit of eliminating the less productive time that is spent commuting in a vehicle.” Spencer decided to approach the design of Imperium from a brutalist architectural angle to match the design of the courthouse. “Brian calls that block “brutalistic” because the


that are each 2,677 square feet and priced at $1,245,900. The ceilings range from 10 to 22 feet in height. There are two and three-bedroom floor plans and 3.5 bath layouts. The townhome also comes with a large two-car garage and a private elevator to all three levels. Paul said that the garages were designed to fit two cars and a golf cart. The amenities within the home are a kitchen with built-in high-quality appliances, luxury bathrooms, oversize closets, soaring ceilings in the living room and a private balcony overlooking Government Street.

courthouse is a kind of modern with sharp edges, and it’s not an old style- historic design,” Paul said. “He thought we should be more consistent with that building because it includes the whole block.” The Grimes brothers wanted a very modern, minimalist look, which fit the brutalist style. The face of Imperium is primarily glass windows, and the structure of the building and patios is block-like with sharp edges.

The ground floor has three commercial units that are each 685 square feet and priced at $274,000. The professional office space has a single open work area with 12 inch ceilings, built-in kitchenette and a glass storefront, which can be an ideal space for a studio or a gallery. There is also reserved parking for the commercial units and a gated entrance to the building. Above the commercial units are three two-floor townhomes

The Grimes brothers plan on keeping a stack, a townhouse and commercial condo, for themselves. Paul said that they haven’t sold any of the commercial condos, but they have had several bites, including a hair salon, Papa Murphy’s and a juice bar. However, they did sell a townhouse to a couple from Indiana, which leaves the middle townhome and two commercial condo still available.

than a two block walk from Palafox. One of the major selling points of mixed-use properties is that they are located in the inner city where there is more walkability. The National Association of Realtors 2017 Community and Transportation Preferences Survey, which surveyed 3,000 adult Americans living in the 50 largest metropolitan areas, found that more now than ever before. The survey also found that 48 percent of respondents said that they would rather live in a home with a smaller yard in a community that is within walking distance of retail stores, work and nightlife than any other type of home and community combination. Anna DeSimone, author of Housing Finance 2020 and a housing advocate, told Forbes Magazine that millennials prefer properties that suit their lifestyle, so they prefer to live in walkable cities or near public transportation. If you are interested in learning more about Imperium, go to the website imperiumpensacola.com.

Paul said that Imperium was just the property the Indiana couple was looking for. The couple wanted a brand new, modern building that is fewer nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 33


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WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT? by Gina Castro, Josh McGovern and Sean Michael

If you were to drive around downtown, you would see construction on just about every other street. There is so much growth and change headed to downtown from the rise of the East Garden District, to the Spring Street street diet and to the advancing of the West Main Master plan. Pensacola’s growth used to be determined by how many new businesses or buildings were added downtown. However, today, you can track Pensacola’s growth all throughout the city. The area surrounding the University of West Florida and West Nine Mile Road continues to expand. In just 2019, Burger King, Krispy Kreme, Ever’man Cooperative Grocery and Cafe and a fourth Jersey Mikes were all added to West Nine Mile Road. Since UWF took home the NCAA Division II Football Championship this past year, you can

expect to see even more growth in that part of town. Beulah, an area just up Nine Mile, is experiencing tremendous growth as well. Ever since Navy Federal Credit Union began constructing its two six-story office buildings, more companies and developers are choosing to build new projects in Beulah. Navy Federal recently purchased several acres from Escambia County’s 636 acre OLF-8 land. Navy Federal plans to construct recreational spaces there for the Beulah community. Publix and other shopping centers are also investing in the Beulah area. Davis Highway has moved on from Sears closing down. Several retail spaces are planned to take over its location, including BJ’s Wholesale Club which will open this upcoming March.

As you travel closer to downtown Pensacola, there seems to be an increase in residential developments. Townhomes are being built throughout Scenic Highway and into East Hill. The downtown area is seeing an increase in luxury and mixed-use properties. Several new apartment complexes offer luxury amenities such as saltwater pools and large New Orlean style balconies as well as a complete ground floor dedicated to commercial properties such as fine dining restaurants and retail stores. One of the most recent mixed-use developments is Imperium, which offers million dollar townhomes on West Government Street. New developments are bountiful in Pensacola, so we collected a wide-ranging list of developing properties. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 35


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

Aldi

4830 Mobile Highway & 10290 Blue Angel Parkway

The German discount supermarket chain Aldi plans to open two locations in Pensacola. The supermarket has more than 10,000 stores in 20 countries, but as part of Aldi’s five-year $5.3 billion U.S. growth plan, Aldi plans to build 800 new stores in only the U.S. by 2022 to compete with popular U.S. grocery chains like Target and Wal-Mart. Aldi bought a 2.15 acre lot, located at 4830 Mobile Highway in West Pensacola, from Terra Pensacola LLC back in January 2019. Aldi’s developers are in the process of building a 20,500-square-foot grocery store at the Mobile Highway location. In recent news, Aldi has plans to build a second store at the intersection of Pine Forest Road and Longleaf Drive. The address will be 10290 Blue Angel Parkway. This location will be a 20,244-square-foot building with a parking lot. Aldi did not respond to Business Climate’s request for estimations on the construction or completion of the two locations. Aldi is also building a location in Navarre. Navarre 19 LLC bought a 19 acre parcel at the corner of U.S. Highway 98 and Ortega street alongside Culvers for $3.29 million in June 2018. The preliminary site plans show the grocery store at the front left corner of the property with 95 parking spaces. Construction for the Navarre location began in January 2020.

36 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

Ascension Sacred Heart Emergency Room Nine Mile Road

Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida, plans to build a new emergency center for adults and children at the intersection of Nine Mile Road and Stefani Road. Construction on the 14,700 square-foot facility will begin in February 2020 and the facility’s opening is planned for late 2020. The project is expected to cost approximately $11 million. The emergency center will include 13 treatment rooms and two trauma rooms staffed by emergency medicine physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists. The facility will also include a lab, pharmacy, CT scanner and X-ray imaging. The new ER will be located within a mile of the new Ascension Sacred Heart Health Center at Milestone, an outpatient medical facility that opened in March 2019. It will be supported by Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola, which provides the region’s only trauma center to treat both adults and children. Sacred Heart’s expansion of outpatient facilities in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties began in 2017 when it opened a new medical park east of Gulf Breeze, a similar medical facility off Sorrento Road near Perdido Bay, and an outpatient pediatrics center in Gulf Breeze.


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

Bayview Community Center 2001 East Lloyd Street

It has been a long road for the Bayview Community Center project. The original community center was razed back in 2015 because of flood damage from 2014 storms and lingering asbestos problems. The new center has been in the works since 2017. Flash forward three years, the center is expected to be completed by this summer. This new facility will be a total of 18,000 square feet and is budgeted for $8.25 million. This center will have three community meeting rooms, two small event spaces for up to 120 people each, a large exercise room, staff offices and a catering kitchen. The outside space will have indoor and outdoor access to restrooms, covered outdoor deck, terraces and drop-off and 5,000 square feet will be alloted to the boathouse, which is where the kayak, stand-up paddle boarding and rowing shells will be stored. Caldwell Associates Architects, the architects for this project, and the City agreed to build the new center in approximately the same location as the old community center to take advantage of the existing infrastructure and adjacencies to the park amenities—

especially the waterfront. In order to protect the building from flooding, the center will be constructed eight feet higher than the previous facility. For more information about this project, visit cityofpensacola.com

BJ’s Wholesale Club 7005 North Davis Highway

Membership-only warehouse club chain BJ’s Wholesale is opening a location on North Davis Highway, which is where Sears once was before it closed in July 2019. Seritage Growth Properties, the owner of the University Town Plaza at 7171 North Davis Highway, plans to build a strip with additional retail stores and restaurants, but Seritage Growth Properties did not respond to our inquires about the development. However, BJ’s Wholesale provided information about its new location. This BJ’s will feature an extensive selection of fresh foods, a full-service deli and household essentials like paper products, cleaning products, diapers, pet supplies and more. Plus, the club will offer the treasure-hunt experience that BJ’s members love with an exciting assortment of fashion for the family, seasonal items, toys, hot tech and a selection of local products. The company said that this location will have a liquor store and a gas station. This will be the company’s 33rd location in Florida and is expected to be 98,883 square feet. The club estimates it will bring about 140 jobs to the market. BJ’s is expected to open early 2020.

Chipotle The wait is over. The fast casual Mexican food chain Chipotle is building two locations in Pensacola. Chipotle is doing its best to be discreet about where it plans to build the locations. So, Chipotle refused to comment, but it did say that the locations will be open by fall 2020. This California based restaurant has 173 locations in Florida.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 37


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

East Hill Viviendo

Corner of 14th Street & Blount Street

With the prestigious popularity of Pensacola’s East Hill neighborhood come a number of new realty construction projects. Kuhn Realty is bringing customer choice to its upcoming East Hill Viviendo townhomes on the corner of 14th Avenue and Blount Street by offering a variety of floor plans and home designs for potential buyers. Starting at $650,000 and capping at $700,000, these homes range in size from 2,200 square feet to 2,600 square feet and bring new construction to an old neighborhood. Larry Kuhn of Kuhn Realty explains that what sets East Hill Viviendo apart is its “array of floor plans from Charleston to New Orleans” and buried utilities that keep the property clean and uncluttered. Being in the heart of East Hill, East Hill Viviendo offers its residents both the comfort of a beautiful neighborhood and the nearness of Pensacola’s downtown, but it is just one of at least 30 new properties that Kuhn Realty is representing in East Hill, among other such projects by fellow realtors. With Kuhn Realty reporting that they have already sold 10 of the 17 available townhomes, the demand for new construction is clear. Construction begins soon and is planned to be completed by the end of 2020. For more information on these and other new homes in East Hill, contact Kuhn Realty at kuhnrealty.com or call (850)384-9707.

Escambia County Jail The new 720-bed Escambia County Correctional Facility will be located near the southeast corner of North Pace Boulevard and West Fairfield Drive on property the commission voted to purchase in July 2016. It will be constructed west of the existing jail structure located along “L” Street. Additional improvements to the property include construction of stormwater management systems, utility service connections, parking areas and new driveway connections to North Pace Boulevard, West Fairfield Drive and St. Mary Avenue. The total project area is approximately 19 acres. The new structure will connect to the existing facility by means of a new connecting corridor which runs east-west between the buildings. Parking for the public and staff is provided in various locations around the facility. A new loading dock area will be constructed on the east side of the new facility. On Aug. 17, 2017, the county commission unanimously supported Whitsell-Green/Caddell to act as the design-build entity for the new correctional facility. The board also voted to authorize staff and the selected design-build entity to utilize Owner Direct Purchases. This is a method whereby the county acts as the pass-through agency for a contractor on subcontracts or other agreements to purchase material. This will allow the county to purchase items associated with this project tax-free at an estimated $2 million to $3 million in savings. EAA Site Contractors of Pensacola has recently finished the initial preparation of the building pad area for the installation of the pilings. Soon they will be moving on to the demolition of the existing asphalt parking lot in order to start the retention pond excavation as well as the construction of the new parking lot for the Juvenile Justice Center. Currently, it is anticipated that the project will be complete in early spring 2020, with inmates being housed as soon as the summer of 2020. 38 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

Former School Board Building 200 West Garden Street

Garden West Street is growing from the ground up in the quiet neighborhoods beside the ocean. Originally, the property belonged to the Escambia County School District and USO buildings, which have been vacant for some time. This property plans to bring the street to the modern age. Passersby may recognize the iconic brick arches of the former USO building. Gone now is that building, but the arches remain intact after a recent demolition project making way for 200 Garden West’s development. In the spirit of good news, plans include preserving the historic Escambia County School District building on the same property. There has been some speculation throughout the years that 200 Garden West could become affordable student housing in partnership with the University of West Florida. The development puts 200 Garden West in close proximity to Tin Cow, Escape Room on Palafox and much more to come. The USO building housed sailors and veterans in a bustling beehive during World War II. Energy was hot and the district was lively. Ed Carson, the developer of 200 Garden West, hopes to return the site to its former glory. Restaurants and shops will most likely open on the ground floor.


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

Girard Place

302 West Romana Street

Girard Place is coming to Romana Street. The new townhomes will border Pensacola’s historic downtown area. Residents will find themselves within walking distance of a cultural hub. Since it’s only a three block walk to Blue Wahoos stadium, you’ll be wanting to catch every game. Find yourself on the private walking path to Ever’man Grocery and Cafe to pick up some dinner. Feeling like a night out? Right down the street are lively restaurants, bars, shops and more. There are several notable gastropubs within the area: Union Public House to the south, Urban Swinery to the Northeast, and O’Reilly’s Irish Pub to the Southeast to name a few. The luxury townhomes will be equipped with the latest smart technology. You control the room temperature, lights and be able to lock and unlock your door all with the push of a button while away from home. Girard Place also features an indoor workout

facility and an outdoor pool along with many other luxury amenities. Each 2,152-squarefoot unit is expected to have a starting price of about $600,000. Girard Place is set to finish construction between Feb. 15 and March 31. For more information on Girard Place, contact them (850)-858-0300 or at contact@girardplace.net.

Hawkshaw Property

The Hawkshaw site will be a $30M development comprised of three buildings separated by landscaped parking areas and tree-lined auto courts. There will be a total of 55 condominium units ranging in size from 775 square feet to 1,805 square feet.

East Romana Street The residence types include eight studio-loft units, four one-bedroom units, and 43 twobedroom units. In addition to the residential component, the project includes 23,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and fitness space. Site work for the project began Sept. 30, 2019. Project features include covered parking, floor to ceiling window walls, expansive covered balconies, and unobstructed views of Pensacola Bay. Amenities include the nearby walkable neighborhood of Aragon, Veteran’s Memorial Park, and the pedestrian and dog friendly Admiral Mason Park. This property will be located across from Veteran’s Memorial Park on East Romana Street with property’s west end on South 9th Avenue. This property is estimated to be complete in the summer of 2021.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 39 Hawkshaw

© SMP Architecture 2020


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

Harmony Park

Englewood Park, 2751 North H Street Harmony Park was recently added to Englewood Park. The once quiet park will be booming with music on beautiful days outside the Boys and Girls Clubs of Emerald Coast. As part of the non-profit project Keep Pensacola Beautiful (KPB), Harmony Park came into being in a tightly-knit community with a grand opening ceremony on Jan. 17. Escambia County District Commissioner Lumon May was in attendance as well as KPB Executive Director Sigrid Solgard. KPB encourages the importance of being outside in our communities. Harmony Park features three large musical structures and benches. The park is currently open to those of all ages and abilities. The Englewood Park location at 2751 North H Street is currently the only Harmony Park open, but KPB aims to develop more

parks like it in the county and install similar musical equipment for children and adults to enjoy without prior musical training. KPB is involved with numerous community parks in the county. Their goal is to maintain clean and safe environments for communities in Pensacola. For more information on KPB, be sure to contact the KPB office at (850)-438-1178 or visit their website KeepPensacolaBeautiful.org.

I-10 at Escamb

Financial Project Ide

I-10 Interchange Publix in Beulah Highway 90

Just outside of Pensacola, Beulah continues to come into its own alongside its expanding retail space. Leasing agent Beck Partners and property developer Blackwater Resource are working together to soon begin construction on a new Publix grocery store and general retail space. Combined together, the Publix and retail shopping center will open access to a variety of shopping and entertainment spaces. The shopping center will offer 11 retail spaces, which Beck Partners hopes will attract local and national retailers. This shopping center will be more than a grocery stop as Beck Partners plans for the retail space to be open for any number of food, fitness, and family fun opportunities, a business need that Beck Partners believes is in high demand in the Beulah area. With no immediate end to Beulah’s growth in sight, Beck Partners anticipates continual retail growth like this shopping center in the next few years, a feat they attribute to companies like Navy Federal for taking a chance on business growth in the Pensacola region. Beulah has plenty of potential that is sure to draw in more developers in the future. Construction will begin at a Highway 90 location and is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

40 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

W

I-10 at Beula Beulah Road P Congested roadways often run concurrently to the Meeting Date: October Location: Beulah Senio increase of developing properties. Nine Mile Road has witnessed a wealth of development including the expansion of the Navy Federal Main Campus. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) released plans to fix the roadway congestion on both Beulah Road and Nine Mile Road in early 2019. FDOT initiated the plans with a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study to analyze the existing characteristics, evaluate the community needs and develop proposed conceptual improvements. The PD&E study is set to wrap up in 2021. While the timeline is still tertiary and subject to change, the right-of-way is expected around 2025 with construction on the interchange starting in 2026. Stretching 2,000 miles of roadway, the proposed plans outlined by FDOT are described as, “The intent of the project is to widen Beulah Road from W. Nine Mile Road to Isaacs Lane; construct Public a new alignment from Isaacs Lane to W. Kingsfield Road; construct a new interchange at I-10; and widen I-10 from the state line to the Pensacola Weigh Station.” Once complete, the I-10 interchange and road widening will help thousands commuting through the currently congested area. The next public hearing before the PD&E study wraps up is set for summer 2020.


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

Pace Center For Girls 1028 Underwood Ave in Pensacola

After one year since its conception in 1994, the Escambia-Santa Rosa county Pace Center For Girls grew from a small building behind University Mall to a larger facility on the Pensacola State College campus. In 2013, the Pace Center For Girls’ operation sprouted again into its largest facility yet in Escambia County. Adding to their success, just recently, the Escambia-Santa Rosa county Pace Center For Girls hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for their recently completed building at 1028 Underwood Ave in Pensacola. The addition is 2,076 square feet with several amenities, including classrooms and offices. Classrooms are designated for the Girls Earning Diplomas program offered by Pace Center For Girls. There is also designated space for their program Ready, Set, WORK! which aims to prepare young girls for the workforce. Offices are intended for their growing Reach Program and Transition Services. This Pensacola center is believed to have helped and aided over Beulah Road Interchange 4,000 girls and young women in its span of 25 years since 1994. The bia County, Florida Pace Center For Girls is currently open to serve young women with programs, resources and services aimed at guiding them through high school and post-secondary education, as well as helping navigate ah Road Interchange Project employment with a steady, livable wage. Public Meeting

entification Numbers: 433113-1-22-01, 433113-2-22-01 & 433113-3-22-01

Welcome

r 22, 2019 Time: 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. CST

or Center | 7425 Woodside Road, Pensacola

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. CDT Beulah Senior Center 7425 Woodside Road, Pensacola

ESCAMBIA

COUNTY

c Meeting | October 22, 2019

Savoy Place

Corner of Wright & DeVillers Streets DeVilliers Square will expand as construction begins soon on a new apartment complex complete with residential and retail space. Sitting at the corner of Wright Street and DeVilliers Street, Savoy Place will fit six retail or restaurant spaces on its first floor with the rest of its space fitting 24 apartment units. With the relatively small size of the planned construction site, Studer Properties aims to maximize Savoy Place’s use of space by ensuring enough space for adequate parking and outdoor amenities, including a courtyard and patio area, while preserving the street-side aesthetic that DeVilliers Square is known for. Savoy Place will offer one and two-bedroom apartments with rent starting at $985 and $1395, respectively. Studer Properties is hoping to expand Pensacola’s unique downtown lifestyle to the Belmont DeVilliers neighborhood by reinvigorating once-empty lots with

housing and retail. As with Southtowne’s integration in downtown Pensacola, Savoy Place is primed to please both its residential and retail tenants. Its outdoor space will include grilling stations, a fire pit, gaming areas for cornhole and table tennis, an outdoor fitness area and more that residents will enjoy. While Studer Properties doesn’t have any current retail tenants, they are working hard to find retailers that will provide a unique flair to DeVilliers Square that both residents and visitors will enjoy. Studer Properties is anticipating construction to be completed in fall 2020. For more information, visit studerproperties.com or call (850)-696-2414.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 41


WHAT’S NEW IN DEVELOPMENT

Townhomes off of Scenic Highway 3350 East Brainerd Street

East Hill isn’t the only neighborhood seeing new developments. East Pensacola Heights is an area that realtor John O’Donnell of Key Impressions Realty believes to be a cheaper, more accessible alternative to East Hill. Key Impressions Realty is finishing up construction of four new houses just off of Scenic Highway on East Brainerd Street with more on the way on the cornering Van Kirk Avenue. These houses average at 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, each being priced around $340,000. Of the four houses built, three have been sold and have had their construction completed, leaving one house, 3350 East Brainerd Street, still available for purchase. 3350 East Brainerd Street boasts a two-story open floor design with available custom features like granite countertops or wood flooring. Like its neighboring houses, 3350 East Brainerd Street offers its own parking space, fenced-in backyard and easy access to Scenic Highway. 3350 East Brainerd Street will finish construction in spring 2020.

Unique Residences 359,369,379 Clubbs Street

This three-building project offers a refreshing break from the typical downtown home. The duplexes are where modern meets contemporary European design, and they are also surrounded by historical live oaks. The front of the duplexes will have a modern material such as wood planks or brick wall. There are two small balconies at the front of the duplex and two large balconies in the back. For privacy, there are two entrances at the front and two entrances at the back, and there is plenty of parking. This development is at the corner of West Zarragossa Street and South Clubbs Street and is just a short walk from Corinne Jones Park and only five minutes away from Palafox Street. Each duplex is a total of 2,500 square feet. This property, which is being built by Pro Development, is ideal for short term rentals. Glib Kazak, the owner of Pro Development and Kazak Realty, said that the price for a duplex is $649,000. Two out of the three duplexes are under contract—leaving one duplex available. Kazak estimates that this project will be complete in March 2020. If you would like to learn more about this development, reach out to Kazak Realty’s exclusive broker Maria Kazak at mariakazak14@gmail.com.

42 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

O’Donnell says that East Pensacola Heights is seeing an influx of new residents from across Pensacola and beyond. East Pensacola Heights provides the perfect location for potential buyers looking for access to downtown Pensacola at an affordable price. For more information, contact Key Impressions Realty at www. mykeytohome.com or by calling (850)-776-4580.


We fulfill our

client’s dreams dreams and help them

create memories memories because our

Realtors put their clients first clients first e Nan Harper & John Pinzino

IslandRealtyPensacolaBeach.com


COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK by Deedee Davis, Owner/Broker Nai Pensacola Commercial Real Estate

2019 was one of the best years we have seen in commercial real estate in a long time. But, 2019 is history and what can we expect from 2020? All indicators point to much of the same. One of the reasons is that our market here in Northwest Florida is different from the national and even the state scene. We do not experience the extreme peaks and valleys, other than recession driven conditions, that most of the country does. And with the leveling factor of our region, we can look to stretch out a very good run. Most of the country felt a bit of tapering off in the 4th quarter, but here in Northwest Florida, we had the busiest year end for sales and for leasing that we have seen in recent years. A lot of this was because of 1031 money that had to be placed—all very typical of a strong economy. We currently have an abundance of investors hungry for income producing properties, but an inventory that has been nearly depleted. Apartment complexes and shopping centers remain a hot ticket, and industrial is coming back strong. Industrial is positioned to be the fastest growing sector of the 2020 market as online retail continues to expand. Distribution centers are in big demand and not just Amazon-sized centers. Plenty of people are starting businesses out of their homes but need climate44 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

controlled storage and shipping areas. Prices have increased significantly for such properties. Downtown Pensacola continues to prosper, but there is an abundance now of available office space. Small suites from 1500-3000 square feet, however, remain in demand. The Imperium, a newly completed project at 120 West Government Street, promises to expand the prosperity of Palafox Street. Steve and Paul Grimes have transformed this parking lot into a state of the art live/ work building. Downstairs houses three small retail/office spaces while the upstairs includes three spacious, beautiful residential units. One residential unit has closed and the others are all currently available. This is the first new downtown development since the completion of the Southtowne project. Look for more new construction on Garden Street as the former School Board administrative building gets a new look and the corner space where Property Appraiser Chris Jones had his office become a new, exciting food venue. Old buildings that have been repurposed into offices are another great option. The Seville Historic District frequently has openings in such buildings. Most seasoned real estate brokers have relationships with owners


there, so if this is what you are looking for, ask. They don’t always show up on the market, so a connection comes in handy. Also typical of a strong economy, we have seen an explosion of title companies as they respond to a strong housing market. Most 3500-5000 square feet suites have been absorbed by them and many new buildings have also gone up in response to the demand. Airbnb homes and condos continue to flourish. With so few government regulations and restrictions on the industry currently, profits are strong. Many people are turning extra rooms, garage apartments and studio areas into available Airbnbs. Look for the hotel industry to push for stronger controls, similar to what they must comply with. It is much like the situation with taxis v.s private rides such as Uber and Lyft. Competition traditionally benefits the consumers, but hotels argue that Airbnbs currently have an unfair advantage with few regulations. It is highly unlikely that Airbnbs will ever replace hotels, but they remain a popular option. Owners individualize these spaces to accommodate guests in a way that hotels simply cannot. Marketing for Airbnbs usually drive home the fact that hotels are cookie-cutter. The Blab building on Palafox Street recently sold and while the available front space has been developed into a microbrewery, the back will reportedly be set up as two Airbnb apartments. You may have noticed the proliferation of microbreweries mushrooming around the downtown area and wonder how so many can thrive. Crazy, but this is a leading indicator of growing, dynamic downtowns. The success of such businesses is largely based on a younger

population. Cities die when the young move away, so count your blessings every time a new one opens. The west side of downtown is no longer the forgotten side, as developers recognize the opportunity. Renfroe’s Pecans has joined Joe Patti on the same block and look for more retailers to get in on the trend. We have our very own “West Side Story” as lots are gobbled up for redevelopment there, largely in anticipation of the longawaited Maritime Park project that could continue to unfold this year. The Hallmark townhouses on the former school site of the same name are nearly sold out and homes are popping up throughout what were once blighted neighborhoods, creating a highly desirable residential option that, until recently, was almost non-existent. Despite the math that makes the real estate market profitable, viable and, yes, fun, it really all gets down to relationships. Having the right real estate broker is as important as the right financial advisor, banker and attorney. All offer expertise that can help you make decisions that affect your bottom line. A relationship with a real estate broker means you may get information about a property that will go on the market and is something that broker knows you would be interested in. A broker can advise you as to a good time to sell, much like a financial advisor does in the world of stocks and bonds. A broker can identify real estate investment opportunities so that you diversify your assets. Take advantage of a strong market and build or strengthen a relationship with one of the many great agents/brokers in our region.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 45


RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK by Eric Milstead Nai Pensacola Commercial Real Estate Pensacola is booming! From downtown to the Beulah corridor, Pensacola is experiencing growth with increasing demand for housing. Buyers, sellers, realtors and builders had another busy year in 2019. Drivers of the market include the expanding radius of the downtown area, increasing growth in the Nine Mile Road area, and rising rents which push renters into home ownership. Low interest rates on mortgage products and zero down programs for first-time home buyers also contribute to the market growth. Increasing job opportunities have attracted even more people into Pensacola. Young talent is staying in the area and others are moving into the area for the great quality of life offered in Pensacola. Pen Air Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union and ST Engineering are just three examples of corporations that are adding jobs in Northwest Florida, all with average pay scales that will accommodate a comfortable lifestyle in the area. Furthermore, retirees are also flocking into the area. A moderate cost of living, mild weather and active city are drawing retired people to Pensacola. Both sets of buyers are looking for the same options in a home, which include low maintenance, a convenient location closer to the downtown area, new or newly renovated, and easy access to 46 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

activities and beaches. The retired buyers normally pay cash and also want newly renovated and updated properties that require no further repairs. Both buyer sets were key drivers of real estate sales in 2019. Downtown Pensacola, for many years has been centered around Palafox Street and expanding a few blocks to the east and west. New developments to the east are now reaching the waterfront, so the city is growing and redeveloping to the west. Properties west of Palafox, stretching to Pace Boulevard, are in high demand. In addition, rental units are running close to 100 percent occupancy. The demand for new construction and newly renovated housing is very strong. Entrylevel new homes are selling between $170 to $225 per square foot making the average new home price between $205,000 to $289,000. These homes are typically 1,200 to 1,600 square feet. They are located on small lots with low maintenance exteriors and interiors. “Move in and Plug in” is number one on buyer’s list of demands. They want to move in, plug in and go back to their daily lives, without having the weekends tied up with home projects or yard work. Therefore, new or newly renovated homes are prime for commanding top dollar and short marketing times. Luxury units downtown including luxury singlefamily homes are selling for starting at

$300 per square foot. These units are very popular with professionals and retirees. This buyer set is looking for all of the conveniences of living in the urban core and still have the amenities such as garages and pools, which are typically sacrificed when living in a town center. Rental rates in the Pensacola area have continued to climb in 2019 and demand has kept its pace. The average rent for an apartment in Pensacola is $978, a six percent increase compared to the previous year, when the average rent was $920 according to RentCafé. Thus, encouraging investors to jump into the property business. Investors are moving money out of the stock market and taking advantage of low interest rates to purchase properties to use as rentals. Therefore, the available units continue to be depleted by investors. According to Zillow, the average listing price in the Pensacola metro area is $235,000 reflecting at 3.8 percent increase over the last 12 months. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to the lowest level since October 2019 to 3.69 percent as reported by Mortgage News Daily. At that interest rate, the principal and interest payment on a 30-year fixed rate loan with a 20 percent down payment would be $864 per month. Although the average list price has increased, the average payment


has dropped in the past 12 months due to lower interest rates. The growth in population and low unemployment will continue to drive the housing market in 2020. It is still a great time to buy and lock in a great interest rate and a payment far less than rent. East Hill continues to be another hot spot in the Pensacola real estate market. Prices have surpassed the $200 per square foot mark and are pushing north of that mark. East Hill has a mixture of vintage homes built in the early 1900s and a mix of new homes built in the last decade. Both types of properties are currently in high demand. The area offers close proximity to the downtown core with larger yards and a quaint neighborhood environment. The area is expanding west of 9th Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This formally untapped area is scattered with new construction and lots of freshly renovated homes.

Known as the East King Tract, the area is seeing a dramatic increase in prices and a high demand for the new homes. The Beulah corridor continues to expand with new infrastructure, businesses and homes that are popping up at a rapid pace. The expansion of Nine Mile Road is getting closer to completion and will be a key to making the area a thriving micro economy. New homes in the 32533 zip code are selling for $100 to $129 per square foot, setting the median price at $239,500 according to the Pensacola Multiple Listing Service. Proximity to shopping areas, schools and restaurants are driving buyers to this area. With easier access to greater Pensacola via I-10, the Beulah area offers more home for the money. Pensacola has become a destination for many to live, work and play. Pensacola offers theater, opera, ballet, minor league sports, art galleries, a historic village and

great festivals. In addition to a thriving entertainment district, the big town activities with a small town-feel attracts and keeps people in the area. With the addition of new and available jobs, our area will continue to grow, pushing the need for additional housing units. Northwest Florida is set up for another record housing year in 2020. Rentals, new construction and existing home sales will all be in high demand. Interest rates are still low enough to support prices and makes homeownership affordable for most. Population growth, low rates, strong economy and more first time home buyers entering the market will support a strong year for the area housing market. Eric Milstead is the Senior Residential Real Estate Broker with Florida’s Top Properties. He has helped buyers, sellers and developers with their real estate needs for over 20 years. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 47


AROUND THE REGION DIB COMPLETES SEVERAL SAFETY INITIATIVES, LAUNCHES NEW STEPS AND PURSUES OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION WITH CITY DEPARTMENTS As downtown Pensacola continues to grow, the Downtown Improvement Board is investing in technology, partnerships and infrastructure to make the 44-block district safe and secure for those who work, live and play downtown. One of the ways the DIB is addressing safety is through collaborative relationships such as one forged with the City of Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency in December, which put two additional dedicated patrolmen on downtown streets. The DIB also drove an initiative that paired Pensacola Police Dept. and private industry to combine police surveillance cameras with private security systems installed in and around downtown businesses. With access to a more comprehensive view of the area, the police are able to intervene faster and more knowledgeably if and when an incident occurs. “The DIB district is rapidly evolving with a lot of moving parts,” said Lissa Dees, DIB executive director. “Our challenge is to approach difficulties and opportunities with innovative solutions so we can create and maintain a safe, secure environment for everyone who enjoys downtown.”

In addition to new law enforcement officers and shared surveillance video, here are some of the other ways the DIB is addressing the important work of keeping downtown safe: LED Lights in DIB Parking Lots and Jefferson St. Garage

Lights in the DIB-managed North Palafox lot were replaced by City of Pensacola Public Works with brighter, safer LED lights, and an upgrade to the Photo by Laura Bogan Photography lights at the Tarragona St. lot was completed by Next Era Jefferson Alley Energy. Lights in the Jefferson Street The once-dark and empty alley between Garage were completely replaced with the Jefferson St. Garage and the rear of LED lights in 2019. Palafox businesses is now a well-lit active After-Hours Ambassador in the Jefferson community space with plants and planters, St. Garage paint, lights and planned public art. A graveyard-shift DIB ambassador is now patrolling the Jefferson Street Garage during Parking App the late evening-early morning hours. Downtown visitors need not exit the security of their cars to pay to park in DIBSecurity Monitors managed parking lots, on-street parking or Security monitors were installed in the DIB the Jefferson St. Garage, now that the DIB office, accessible to police officers assigned has launched its Passport Parking app. to patrol the downtown area.

PENSACOLA HABITAT FOR HUMANITY’S BOARD ELECT’S NEW CHAIRWOMAN The Pensacola Habitat for Humanity board members voted unanimously to elect Mei Davis as chairwoman of the board. Davis has been a member of the board since 2017, as well as been active on several committees. She is involved with many events organized by Pensacola Habitat, including their annual golf tournament. She will serve as chairwoman of the board for the next two years. “Pensacola Habitat does more than just build homes in our community.” said Davis, “They work hard to bring people together and help strengthen our community. I am excited about the future of Pensacola Habitat and look forward to being chairwoman.” Al Coby will remain on the board after the end of his term as chairman. Coby has served on the board since 2014 and has held several offices during that time. During his term as the chairman of the board, Pensacola Habitat launched their online application 48 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

process, which almost tripled the amount of applications they received. Coby stated, “I love working with Pensacola Habitat for Humanity. They have helped almost 1,400 families in both Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties achieve affordable homeownership. That number continues to grow year after year. I am excited to still be a part of such a great organization.” Pensacola Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that seeks new and innovative ways to positively impact the community through various projects such as their Home Buyer and Neighborhood Revitalization programs. They offer unique financing opportunities to qualified applicants to provide affordable home ownership in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. For more information, visit pensacolahabitat.org.


PORT OF PENSACOLA REVENUE NEARLY DOUBLES FROM 2018 TO 2019 Revenue at the Port of Pensacola nearly doubled year-over-year from fiscal year 2018 to 2019, growing from $1.26 million to $2.41 million – an increase of more than 91 percent. The port also saw a significant increase in dockage days, wind energy shipments and breakbulk cargo, with approximately 64,638 tons of breakbulk cargo shipped through the Port of Pensacola in 2019. “We’ve been working hard to continue to attract new tenants and provide opportunities for existing tenants to expand and do business at the Port of Pensacola, and we’re excited to see that reflected in our revenue,” Port Director Amy Miller said. “We look forward to another great year ahead as an economic driver in the City of Pensacola and beyond.” The revenue totals include port operations only, excluding grants and other non-operating revenues. Some highlights for the Port of Pensacola in 2019 include: • 64,638 tons of breakbulk cargo, an increase of 78 percent from fiscal year 2018

AROUND THE REGION

• 1,632 units of wind energy shipments, an increase of 126 percent from fiscal year 2018 • 737 dockage days, an increase of 287 percent from fiscal year 2018 • $3.1 million received for berth restoration to provide additional opportunities for large vessels to dock at the port, along with an additional $450,000 for upland cargo and berth improvement initiatives • Portside Pensacola Vision Plan completed in 2019 • 38 open house hours • 84,572 social media views • International trade partners and cargo routes including Mexico, the Bahamas, Brazil and Israel • Continued involvement in aquaculture through Pensacola Bay Oysters

plans to pursue new marine maritime repair and overhaul, or MRO, business and related light manufacturing. The Port of Pensacola currently houses a variety of tenants in industries ranging from cement and building materials to sailing and oyster farming. Tenants include Cemex, Pensacola Bay Oysters, American Magic Sailing, Blue Origin, Pate Stevedore, Martin Marietta and Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services. “We are fortunate to have such a thriving deep-water port right here in Pensacola,” Mayor Grover Robinson said. “To see them almost double their year-over-year revenue is a true testament to the Port of Pensacola’s value and their significant economic impact in our community, and it shows that we are reaping the rewards of following our plan to be a niche port. I am confident that we will continue to see great things happening at The Port of Pensacola’s plans for 2020 the port in 2020.” include working with the City of Pensacola To learn more about the Port of to activate the SCAPE “Hashtag Connector” Pensacola, visit portofpensacola.com. concept and Port Vision Plan, along with continuing to improve port infrastructure and increase cargo volumes. The port also

FILE YOUR TAXES FOR FREE WITH UNITED WAY OF WEST FLORIDA’S VITA PROGRAM Residents of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties making $66,000 or less annually are eligible to file their taxes for free with United Way of West Florida’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Eligible participants may visit one of five convenient locations across the community to utilize this free service and maximize their tax return with the assistance of an IRScertified volunteer. In 2019, United Way of West Florida tax assistance services helped individuals and families complete over 3,000 tax returns, saving $668,961in preparation fees. With over 5,000 hours of service from IRScertified volunteers, the program had a total community impact of $5.7 million. On Jan. 21 and 22, the PSC Main Campus VITA Site will hold a soft opening. Please see below for a complete list of VITA sites throughout Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, as well as their opening dates and hours. VITA is by appointment only in 2020, to schedule an appointment simply dial 2-1-1 or visit uwwf.org/taxhelp.

Community Action Program Committee (CAPC)

1380 N. Palafox St., Pensacola, FL 32501 Opening: Jan. 28 Hours: Tuesday, Thursday 12 pm – 5 pm Early Learning Coalition of Santa Rosa County

6460 Justice Ave., Milton, FL 32570 Opening: Jan. 28 Hours: Tuesday, Thursday 12 pm – 5 pm

Goodwill Easterseals of the Gulf Coast

Filers must bring the following documentation with them when filing taxes at one of the VITA sites: • State or federal photo identification • Social Security cards for all members of the household • All W2s, 1095s, 1098s, and 1099s • Childcare provider’s information • Investment statements and other tax forms • Amounts of other income • Bank account information for direct deposit • Last year’s tax return, if available

1715 E. Olive Rd., Pensacola, FL 32514 Promotional materials containing Opening: Feb. 7 information about United Way of West Friday 12 pm – 4 pm; Saturday 10 am– 2 pm Florida’s VITA program are available for distribution. To request these materials, or for Pensacola State College (Main Campus) any questions concerning the VITA program, 1000 College Blvd., Pensacola, FL 32504 contact Financial Stability Outreach Opening: Jan. 21 Manager, Katrina Madden, at vita@uwwf.org Hours: Monday, Wednesday 10 am– 4 pm; or by calling 850-434-3157. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 am– 7 pm; United Way of West Florida’s VITA Saturday 10 am– 2 pm Program is sponsored by Regions, the University of West Florida, the Florida Pensacola State College (Warrington Department of Economic Opportunity, Campus) the Escambia County School District, 5555 US-98, Pensacola, FL 32507 Community Action Program Committee, Opening: Jan. 28 Inc., and Wells Fargo. Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday 3 pm – 7 pm nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 49


AROUND THE REGION ASCENSION SACRED HEART PENSACOLA ADDS SURGICAL ROBOT FOR JOINT REPLACEMENTS Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola is now offering robotic technology to assist surgeons in performing joint replacement surgery. The hospital is the first in Pensacola to provide the new Stryker Mako robotic system, which allows surgeons to create a patient-specific 3D plan and perform procedures using a surgeon-controlled robotic arm. Robotic-assisted surgery is a newer approach to hip and knee replacement that offers the potential for a higher level of accuracy in the alignment and positioning of implants. For many patients, robotic surgeries often mean less pain and a quicker recovery. “This technology enables us to provide each patient with a more personalized surgical experience based on their specific diagnosis and anatomy,” said Dr. Jean Dabezies, an orthopedic surgeon who performs knee and hip joint replacement surgeries at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola. “We can customize each patient’s

surgical plan and implant placement before entering the operating room and use the robotic arm to execute with a higher level of accuracy. This level of surgical planning hasn’t been available previously.” Knee replacement and hip replacement are designed to relieve pain caused by joint degeneration due to arthritis. In knee replacement surgery, the arthritic portion of the knee is removed and covered with a combination of plastic and metal parts that form the new surfaces of the knee joint. During robotic total knee replacement, surgeons use computed tomography (CT) scans to build a virtual model of the patient’s knee. With the ability to personalize joint replacement surgeries to fit each patient’s individual anatomy, robotic-assisted procedures offer hope for more successful hip and knee replacements. “We are excited to be able to offer this innovative robotic technology to advance our joint replacement services,” said Dawn

Rudoph, president of Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola. “This surgical advance further demonstrates our commitment to provide the community with cost-effective, high-quality orthopedic care.” To learn more about this advance in joint replacement surgery, ask your orthopedic specialist or call Ascension Sacred Heart Orthopedics at 850-4949000.

WSRE HAS NEW GENERAL MANAGER Pensacola State College has appointed Jill Hubbs to serve as interim general manager of WSRE and executive director of the WSRETV Foundation. She joined the PBS member station in 1996 and has served as director of Educational Services and Outreach. She is replacing Bob Culkeen, who joined WSRE in 2016 and has been named president and chief executive officer of WTCI in Chattanooga, Tenn. Hubbs is a graduate of Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education. A former school teacher, she has successfully launched major early learning initiatives and teacher training programs during her 23 years at WSRE. Most recently, she led the opening of a neighborhood Imagination Station early learning activity center at Weis Elementary School. She is also the award-winning executive producer of several WSRE productions, including “Gulf Islands National Seashore: The Treasure of the Gulf Coast” and “Baseball in Pensacola.” She produced “They Were Their Fathers” in commemoration of 50 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate

the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, resulting in national broadcasts, screening events at the presidential libraries of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and last year’s week-long Reading of the Names at the Wall South in Pensacola’s Veterans Memorial Park, for which she is a founding board member. “Jill lives the mission of public television on and off the job. Her work at WSRE has positively impacted many lives in our community, particularly our children, teachers and military. Bob will be missed, and fortunately Jill is well poised to build upon his successes with a solid team at WSRE and PSC,” said Sandy Cesaretti Ray, PSC’s associate vice president of Community and Government Relations. “I am grateful to Bob Culkeen for his service to the station, college and community. His accomplishments here have been significant, from launching the new WSRE PBS KIDS channel to completing technology upgrades that will serve us well into the future. We will miss his fun sense of humor, and we extend our congratulations to Ms. Hubbs on her new leadership role,” said PSC President Ed Meadows.


AROUND THE REGION UWF ANNOUNCES $200K GIFT FOR FIRST NAMED LAB IN LABORATORY SCIENCES ANNEX The University of West Florida announced today a $200,000 gift from Roger Hemminghaus to name the Roy and Henrietta (Etts) Hemminghaus Chemistry Lab in the new Laboratory Sciences Annex. The gift will support scholarships for students in the Department of Chemistry. Roger said a campus visit with his daughter and son-in-law, Sherri and Jeff Weeks, inspired him to give to the Department of Chemistry, which is housed in the Hal Marcus College of Science

and Engineering. Roger opted to support the annex in honor of his late father, Roy Hemminghaus, who served as senior project coordinator and general manager for the Chemstrand Corporation nylon plant, established in Pensacola in the 1950s. “It’s our wish for the income from our endowment to provide encouragement and financial means for current and future students to pursue and excel in careers in science and other related fields,” Roger said. “Made possible by a nearly full scholarship, my father was the first in his family of seven children to attend and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree. My mother never had that opportunity, but was certainly an influential partner for Roy and a great role model for me and my siblings.” Sherri Weeks said her grandfather was known for being a “people-centric” manager, remembering the names of all 4,000 employees, as well as one personal fact related to their family, training and/ or job. After serving as the vice president and general manager of the Pensacola

plant, Roy became the vice president for all nylon and acrilan manufacturing at the Chemstrand headquarters in Decatur, Georgia. He was also responsible for managing manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, Great Britain and Japan. “We are grateful for the support of the Hemminghaus family and excited to share the news of the first named lab in our new Laboratory Sciences Annex,” said Dr. Jaromy Kuhl, dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. “This gift will benefit our chemistry students tremendously and carry on the legacy of Roy and Etts.” The annex houses 12 new teaching facilities for the University’s growing biology and chemistry programs and was designed with unfinished “shell” space for potential expansion. These labs along with the new equipment will provide hands-on educational experiences for students. For more information about the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, visit uwf.edu/hmcse.

UWF RESEARCHER EARNS GRANT TO STUDY RETINA REGENERATION IN FISH Dr. Scott Taylor, assistant professor in the University of West Florida Department of Biology, has secured a $400,000 grant from the National Eye Institute to study how zebrafish regenerate preceptor cells in their eyes after they’ve been damaged. The research will focus on using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats, or CRISPR, genomeediting techniques to explore how zebrafish regenerate the retinal cells that receive light and start the visual process. Taylor said the research could eventually have applications for treating blindness in humans. “(MiR-18a) might be extremely important for starting the regeneration process and at least helping to produce new photoreceptor cells,” Taylor said. “That’s really what we want to get at because in humans a lot of the retinal diseases destroy photoreceptors. So, we want to find ways to regenerate those cells in humans so that vision can be restored.” Zebrafish can fully regenerate cells in

their eyes even after extensive damage. “In other animals, including mammals, damage to the retina causes permanent blindness, but zebrafish can fully recover from this,” Taylor said. “Otherwise, our retinas are almost identical in terms of how they work and how they’re structured.” Taylor has used CRISPR to create zebrafish without MiR18a, a molecule that regulates regeneration in the eye, to see how their vision recovers in its absence. “Fish without this molecule have an exaggerated regeneration response,” Taylor said. “They produce more new cells and photoreceptors than normal fish would. We think this process is critical for regulating retinal regeneration.” Taylor has studied

retinal regeneration at UWF for more than three years. The grant will fund three years of work and will support research positions for undergraduate and graduate students. For more information about the UWF Department of Biology, visit uwf.edu/ biology.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 51


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ON THE MARKET A Real Estate Section

How to Create a More Functional Laundry Room Page 57

In This Section By the Numbers: A Look at December’s Market Highlights page 54

Starting a Home Remodeling Project page 59

Energy-Efficient Ideas to Upgrade Your Home page 62

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 53


BY THE NUMBERS A LOOK AT DECEMBER’S MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

$218k

Median Sale Price

61 Avg. Days on Market

Monthly Sales

792

9825

Quarterly Sales

MARKET HIGHLIGHTS Sales rebounded 15% from November’s, with 792 sales reported for December.

Fourth quarter sales increased 9% over the same period last year. Total sales for 2019 were 9825, 4% more than 2018.

At $218,200, median sale price edged up $2700 from November’s.

Combined days on market (DOM) for the month was 61, eight days more than the previous month.

There were 175 pending sales at the end of December.

Information courtesy of Pensacola Association of Realtors


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HOW TO CREATE A MORE

FUNCTIONAL

LAUNDRY

ROOM A laundry room may be one of the spaces that you use the most, but cramped quarters and clutter can hinder your productivity. Eliminate the excuses and get your laundry room under control with these tips to add function to your washing routine.

USE SPACE WISELY Your laundry room may not have a big footprint, but you probably have more usable space than you realize. Install shelves or storage units on the walls and consider the ceiling as a spot to hang a floating drying rack. Don’t overlook the back of the door, where you can mount a storage system or use an over-the-door alternative.

MAXIMIZE STORAGE Many laundry rooms suffer from a lack of storage, which hinders space to fold and manage laundry while making the room less pleasant overall. A durable, attractive organization system like Dimensions by ClosetMaid can add instant organization and style to your laundry room. The system provides numerous design options, convenient accessories and configurations of cabinets and drawers, accommodating virtually any space.

RESIST WRINKLES Prevent unsightly wrinkles by hanging garments straight out of the dryer. A hanging rod is easy to install and lets you take advantage of vertical space in smaller rooms. Be sure to also stock up on hangers of various styles so you always have an ample supply ready when the buzzer sounds that another load is ready for your attention.

PROMOTE VENTILATION Another common issue in laundry rooms is limited ventilation, which can promote mold, affect air quality and hinder air drying for special garments. A clever way to enhance ventilation while increasing your storage space is ventilated shelving that helps keep air flow moving. For example, ClosetMaid’s Premium Wood Kits feature sturdy slatted shelves to stash your laundry essentials and can include accessories like hanging rods.

CREATE A FOLDING STATION One of the biggest laundry pitfalls is folding and putting away clean clothes. A clear, clean space in the laundry room can help nudge you toward completing the task more efficiently. If you have front-loading machines, it may be as simple as adding a counter or sturdy shelf above them. If you use top-loaders, you may need to get more creative. If there’s room, a laundry sorter with a flat top is a good solution. Or if floor space is at a premium, you might consider a shelf that mounts to the wall and folds down when you need it. Get inspired with more ideas to make your laundry room work for you at ClosetMaid.com. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 57


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STARTING A HOME REMODELING PROJECT 7 TIPS FOR CHOOSING A QUALIFIED CONTRACTOR

Outside of the home itself, remodeling is typically one of the largest investments you can make as a homeowner. While some projects can be tempting to tackle yourself, many larger-scale projects may require hiring a qualified professional. Because remodeling your home is a big undertaking, it’s important to take steps to ensure the professional you hire to perform the work is qualified to complete it to the highest standards of quality and integrity.

ASK FOR LICENSES AND INSURANCE

Consider these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to help you make an informed decision when hiring a remodeling contractor.

Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed, bonded and insured. Ask for copies of licenses and insurance certificates for any remodelers you’re considering to make sure they’re current. Most states also require contractors to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance for their crews. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets the minimum requirements.

GET RECOMMENDATIONS

CHECK REFERENCES

One of the best ways to find qualified, professional help is through word-of-mouth referrals. Ask your relatives, friends, neighbors or co-workers – particularly if they’ve recently renovated their own homes – if they have any previous experience with companies they would recommend. Also consider searching online for reviews of companies in your area.

STAY LOCAL It’s often best to consider established local remodeling companies first, as they are typically more compelled to perform high-quality work, which allows their businesses to thrive and remain in the community. Local professionals are also likely to know permit requirements and building codes in your city or county, which can change from year to year.

FOLLOW YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC Whether your home features a mid-century modern, contemporary or farmhouse design style, it’s critical to choose a remodeler who is knowledgeable in the construction and design of the style of your home. Additionally, a company that specializes in remodeling kitchens may not be suited for a bathroom or bedroom project.

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential contractors, ask for a list of references you can contact and a portfolio of work. A typical reference list includes 10 or more jobs with dates as well as the customer’s name, address and phone number, and a portfolio should also contain at least 10 projects with photos of the space before work began, during the project and after completion. If possible, also consider visiting a current job site to see first-hand how the contractor operates.

SEARCH FOR VIOLATIONS OR COMPLAINTS Because you can’t always rely on a portfolio or references, it’s important to also check with your local consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints on record for the contractors you’re considering, which may help further narrow your list.

COMPARE APPLES TO APPLES While a number of different factors goes into every remodeling project, be sure all contractors you solicit bids from are using the same scope and quality of work requirements. Discuss any significant variations in price or timelines and be wary of any substantially lower estimates. Find more tips for selecting a contractor at remodelingdoneright.com.

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EnergyEff icient Ideas

to Upgrade Your Home Energy bills are likely among the largest expenses for homeowners, but you can take action to lower those costs. During a remodel, a certified contractor can help you make smart decisions when it comes to selecting appliances, windows and insulation for your projects. Though upgrades made with efficiency in mind can vary depending on the climate you live in, the biggest energy users are typically the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and water heater, all of which make up about 60% of a typical home’s energy budget. Learn how you can reduce your home’s energy reliance and environmental impact with these tips from the experts at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry: HEATING AND COOLING Climate control is one of the largest home energy users. A programmable thermostat is a simple starting point and can save up to one-third of heating and cooling costs. Cutting-edge models can even learn your family’s behaviors and tweak usage for maximum savings. Additional ways to save energy include sealing leaky ducts, cleaning or changing air filters regularly and replacing your furnace or air conditioner with an energy-efficient model, particularly if your heating and cooling systems are more than 15 years old.

INSULATION Studies show that only 20% of homes built before 1980 were well-insulated. Depending on when your home was built, adding insulation in the attic and walls can be one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste. Not only does better insulation reduce energy loss and improve comfort, it’s an upgrade that generally adds to the value of your home with an estimated 95% return on your investment. WINDOWS High-performance windows not only lower heating and cooling bills, they also reduce heat gain during warmer months and add a layer of insulation when you need to keep the heat inside. Triple-pane, Low-E insulated frame windows can save 33% of the heating cost for a typical home in cooler climates, and in hotter environments, double-pane, low solar-gain windows can reduce cooling costs by up to 32%. LIGHTING The average house dedicates 5-10% of its energy budget to lighting. To cut your use, switch to LED lights, turn off unneeded lights and, where possible, use natural light. Other measures, like relying on task lights and installing motion detectors, can help further limit your lighting-related energy usage. APPLIANCES The refrigerator is a major energy drain, accounting for up to 15% of the energy bill in some homes, particularly models that are 15 years old or older. Design plays a major role in a refrigerator’s efficiency; it needs adequate air flow for optimal function. Be realistic about your needs and only buy as big a unit as you require. Be aware that icemakers and dispensers not only add to the up-front cost, they’re also less efficient. As with any appliance, shop for a model that offers as many energy-saving features as you can afford. LANDSCAPING Trees positioned to reduce summer sun and winter wind can reduce a household’s energy use by 25% or more. In summer, trees can lower air temperature as much as 9 F through shading and evapotranspiration. In winter, a well-designed landscape can cut heating bills by about one-third. Find more tips for creating a more energy-efficient home at remodelingdoneright.com.

62 | Business Climate | 2020 / 2021 Annual Real Estate


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