— Steve’s Marketplace —
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
The commercialization of Nassau County is unfolding before our eyes, and leery residents can see the ramifications.
Commercial buildings are springing up from piles of dirt and downed trees, soon to be retail stores, offices, small businesses, etc. You don’t have to look far to see them.
And the values of commercial properties in the county are flourishing. The recent $5 million sale of a shopping center at the Sadler Road and South Eighth Street intersection is ample evidence. The parcel is anchored by Beach Diner, but it does not include the CVS store (in the sale).
Meanwhile, new offices and stores fill up quickly as the demand meets the supply. On the website loopnet.com, commercial properties commonly list in the millions on Amelia Island and in Yulee, and somewhat less on the growing west side.
Properties with the biggest price tags include the Lofton Commerce Park center (located near Lofton Creek with Pizza Hut and The UPS Store on each corner). It is listed for nearly $6 million. Ironically, few properties are available in popular downtown Fernandina Beach.
The demand for commercial properties makes sense. As new residents pour in here, service industries follow in a logical sequence. In a typical month, 300 to 400 new households are relocating here – coming from California to Pennsylvania. The new residents desire the new services.
The new households are obviously finding places to buy, from subdivisions to apartment complexes. While the massive Wildlight project is in full swing, another significant project just down Highway A1A is ready to begin.
The Three Rivers project, caught in the throes of the real estate meltdown 10 years ago, has resurfaced (now called “Tributary”) and will break ground soon. It is located just west of I-95, on the north side of A1A. It reportedly will entail 3,200 new homes. (Wildlight, the first stage of Rayonier’s enormous development in Yulee, is expected to have 22,000 homes in all, constructed over several decades.)
With the rising prices of commercial buildings, the rents charged to tenants follow. With this in mind, the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce is conducting a survey of the small businesses in the area. The survey will assess the leasing rate of office space around the county, vital for incoming businesses.
“We get asked that every day – what can I expect to pay?” says Regina Duncan, president of the Chamber. Business inquiries at the Chamber are already running ahead of last year, Duncan says. With a roaring local economy, it should be a stellar year for businesses of all types, from commercial to industrial.
Don’t look now, but Nassau County has been discovered. Some commercialization is inevitable, but too much breeds congestion, sprawl.
Steve Nicklas, CRPC®, is a financial advisor with a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns regularly appear in weekly newspapers in North Florida and in South Georgia, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].