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2015 Lease Rate Averages

From Big Box to Freestanding, Gulf Coast retail is on the upswing.

By John Fifer, CCIM and Stacy Taylor, CCIM

The retail market along the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama has rebounded significantly in the past few years. In 2016, we’re expecting to see around 75% of retailers adding locations of all types and sizes, across most of our markets.

Beginning with the largest retail type, a very active trend is the redevelopment of regional malls like WP Glimcher’s University Town Plaza in Pensacola and The Centre of Tallahassee. Other malls with plans to redevelop include Springdale Mall in Mobile, the Panama City Mall and Regency Square Mall in Jacksonville. Large anchors like Sears and JCPenney are often staying in place, with owners backfilling large vacancies with Academy Sports, Burlington Coat Factory and other creative uses, including entertainment facilities, trampoline parks, music venues and charter schools.   

Existing retail big box vacancies are being absorbed very quickly. Some examples of this include the new Whole Foods at Pinebrook Shopping Center in Mobile, Publix/Pottery Barn in Pensacola, Gander Mountain in Destin and Lucky’s Market in the Towne South Shopping Center in Tallahassee.

As second generation big boxes fill up, retailers are looking for new locations, with a lot of larger retail development projects coming out of the ground and being proposed. These developments are paired with traditional suburban growth and also a newer trend to redevelop into denser urban locations, often with a second floor of office space or residential above. Retailers are looking at much smaller footprints within those downtown locations.

Smaller retailers and franchisees are growing and expanding across all types of our shopping centers. The A Centers are pushing rents and upgrading the quality of their tenants. As smaller retailers are not finding locations in A Centers, they are building freestanding or smaller strip centers on outparcels. A lot of new strip centers and freestanding retailer developments are popping up along most of the Gulf Coast’s commercial corridors.

Looking ahead, we expect the retail sector to have a very busy and profitable 2016.

Read more related articles in our 2016 Insight Magazine.

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