Full Circle Newsletter
An e-Newsletter for the Clients and Friends of C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.

December 2005

Commercial Real Estate

Promising Future Requires Proper Planning
Managing Central Florida's Commercial Real Estate Boom

Fueled by a robust local economy, the future for commercial real estate development in Central Florida looks bright.  The region is the second fastest growing major MSA in the nation with employment increasing at twice the national average.  CBD and suburban office vacancy rates are holding steady at less than 11 percent. 

Many view this forecast as a mixed blessing for the region; one that presents both opportunities and challenges.  The key to success will be avoiding uncontrolled sprawl by focusing on “smart” growth strategies and long-range master planning.

A survey conducted for myregion.org found that 80 percent of residents feel growth should be managed and that long-range growth planning is critical.  If ignored, some 64 percent fear their quality of life will decline over the next five years. 

The Urban Land Institute predicts that sprawl issues, congestion and possible higher energy prices will heighten the trend of suburban town center developments.  Local examples include Celebration and the 11,000 acre Harmony community in south Osceola County.

CTH+A embraces the importance of smart growth and comprehensive master planning in all of its commercial real estate development projects.  This commitment is evidenced in the firm’s unique multidisciplinary approach to architecture and planning; one that includes in-house real estate research and development services along with the more traditional offerings of architectural design and planning.

The seamless relationship between CTH+A’s commercial real estate and master planning components allows the firm to be proactive in determining the highest and best use for a client’s real estate holdings before the design process ever begins. 

“We believe there is great wisdom in taking a macro planning viewpoint before the architecture component ever takes place,” according to C.T. Hsu.  “Investing in real estate research on the front end can produce untold savings once a project breaks ground.”  The firm’s real estate services range from identifying properties that meet a client’s specific needs to feasibility studies that assess the best use of a client’s particular property. 

The convenience of urban lifestyles is driving another commercial real estate trend, with the focus on urban renewal, redevelopment and infill.  Orlando’s Thornton Park District and Parramore district west of downtown are prime examples.  A designated Downtown Community Redevelopment District, Parramore is reaping the benefits of financial and regulatory incentives from local government and the private sector, producing a viable alternative to sprawl. 

Earlier this year, the City of Orlando announced a housing, public safety and business development initiative for Parramore, including $2.2 million for streetscape improvements.  Construction of a new United States courthouse is underway and Fortune 500 company Hughes Supply also opened its new headquarters in the district.

CTH+A has been involved in the redevelopment of Parramore since the early ‘90s with the conversion of the Church Street Garage into Vendor’s Way.  More recently, the firm provided pro bono services for the Wellsbilt Museum that chronicles and celebrates the history of black Orlando. 

Currently, the firm is involved in the comprehensive space needs assessment, planning and design of Orlando’s Public Safety Complex, a project intended to support Parramore’s revitalization as well as accommodate the city’s Police Department in a single state-of-the-art facility.

Any discussion of the region’s growth must include transportation.  A recent survey by METROPLAN ORLANDO, the region’s metropolitan planning organization, found that some 70 percent of area residents think strong growth management plans are vital to improving our region’s transportation issues.  Half feel the only realistic solution is to stop building highways and invest in public transportation.  CTH+A agrees.

As architectural consultant for the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority’s (LYNX) Regional Intermodal Center in downtown Orlando, CTH+A studied several design alternatives to incorporate a light rail station, commuter rail platform and high-speed intercity rail into the 50,000-square-foot terminal.

All images and articles copyright © 2008 C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.

C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.
820 Irma Avenue • Orlando, FL 32803 • 407 423 0098 • Fax 407 423 4793

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