Airport West Stretches Boundaries

South Florida Business Journal
May 21, 1999
Volume 19, Number 40
Ronni Sayewitz

A Miami developer hopes to take advantage of rising prices and dwindling vacancies in the Airport West industrial market by adding nearly 1 million square feet with two office and warehouse parks.

Analysts say Paul Douglas’ plans to build his largest venture – Doral Commerce Park  - on the border of Airport West and Medley marks the next logical direction for the growing number of businesses that want to be near the Miami International Airport but can no longer find affordable space in the market.

Gross rental rate for industrial space in Airport West currently run as high as $7.50 a square foot, compared to $5.50 a square foot in 1996, said Ron Berger, a vice president at Trammell Crow Co. in Miami.  Industrial lease rates in the entire Airport/Doral market average $6.21, according to the first quarter report by CB Richard Ellis in Miami. 

Prices are expected to shoot up even more when the sought-after Lemon tract, currently the last large, vacant chunk of land in Airport West – finally gets developed Berger said.

‘First and Last Pocket’

“Businesses are going to have to pay up or move down the road to Medley,” Berger said.  “But some people will resist moving to Medley because they will think the ride is too far.”

“[Douglas] has found a niche that may be the first and last pocket between Medley and Airport West.”

Construction will start in June on the Doral Commerce Park, a $32 million, 620,000-square-foot office/warehouse project across from the Doral County Club & Golf Course at Northwest 97th Avenue and Northwest 58th Street.

Douglas is the general partner for Doral Commerce Park Ltd., which was formed to create the project, he said.  His company, Douglas Development Group, will develop the 36-acre park.

The six-building project is slated for completion within two-and-a-half-years, Douglas said.  Industrial gross lease rates will average $6.75 a square foot at Doral Commerce, he said.

Meanwhile, Douglas Development also has started construction minutes away from Costa Corporate Centre, which sits closer to the airport than Doral at Northwest 97th Avenue and Northwest 33rd Street.

Douglas is also the general partner of DMCD associates, which was formed to oversee that project.

The 10-acre Costa Park features 190,000 square feet in two office/warehouse/condominium buildings, which allow businesses to buy their space on the property, Douglas said.  Construction costs are estimated at $10 million he said.

The developer has already sold 75% of the 12 condominium units in Costa’s first 103,000-square-foot building for $75 a square foot, Douglas said.  So far, buyers largely have been freight forwarding and international trade companies like Promo International, Duamex and Giancola Exports.

Class A facilities

The Costa center should have a value of $13.5 million once all of it’s units are sold, Douglas said.  Construction of it’s final building is slated for completion this year.

Both industrial parks were designed as Class A facilities, offering such amenities as rear-loading and three doors per loading bay.  Douglas added.

Cambó Realty was hired to handle leasing, marketing and sales for the project.  Robert Cambó is a partner in both projects, Douglas said.

“This is a hot market, especially for companies that trade in Latin America,” said José I. Juncadella, vice president of Codina Realty Services in Miami.  “The market has continued to absorb new space.”

The Doral and Costa industrial parks mark the first development deals for Douglas since he left his position as president of Easton-Babcock Development to form his own firm in 1997.

Prior to that, Douglas served as vice president of development for Codina Development, as well as project director for Codina’s much lauded Beacon Centre industrial park in the Airport West market.

“Going out on my own was the next natural progression for me,” Douglas said.  “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for sometime.”

Financing for Douglas’ first projects came from private investors, he said. Douglas Development is also drawing plans for some industrial projects and 80,000-square-foot office complex in Fort Lauderdale, Douglas said.

“We decided to make Costa into and office/warehouse/condominium project because, quite frankly, our investors wanted to see a shorter horizon than the develop, lease and hold strategy,” Douglas said.  “But in the long run, one of our objectives is to create a portfolio of buildings that we can own and maintain for a long time.”

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