A group made up of two large landowners, a major commercial real estate firm, and other interests plans to develop and market a 30 million-square-foot global logistics center on 4,700 acres in South Central Florida, another sign that the global supply chain is taking notice of Florida's stature as a population and commerce center.
The consortium, made up of landowners Lykes Bros. Inc. and A. Duda & Sons Inc., has named real estate services giant Cushman & Wakefield to market the facility, the landowners said in a statement. The group also consists on supply chain advisory firm Institute St. Onge; Ware Malcomb, a leading industrial master planning and architectural firm; and Rockefeller Group Foreign Trade Zone Services.
The tract is located on the outskirts on Moore Haven, Fla., a small town in the middle of Florida's South Central region. The site was chosen because it sits at the midpoint of an area bounded by Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach to the east and south; Fort Myers and Naples to the west; Sarasota and Bradenton to the northwest; and Lakeland to the north, the landowners said.
The arc connecting the cities is home to more than 8 million residents and is scheduled to grow to 9.5 million people by the year 2020, according to the announcement. It is also adjacent to major rail and three interstate highways with connections to airports and seaports, the firms said.
The core of the project will consist of an industrial park as well as what is being billed by its backers as the state's largest integrated logistics center. Susan Howard, a spokeswoman for the two landowners, said the multiyear project "could break ground right away for the right user."
For a region so geographically tied to major international trade routes, Central and Southern Florida has seen little in the way of distribution center development. The region is heavily skewed toward consumption, rather than production, due to its large retiree and tourist population.
Local and regional officials hope the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2014 will establish the region as a major distribution point as long as the Port of Miami, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, and the Port of Palm Beach have dredged their harbors and channels to sufficient depths to accommodate the much larger containerships expected to transit the expanded canal.
In preparation for the potential change, private sector interests have joined to develop Florida's first inland port designed to link the seaports, via road and rail, with a centralized warehouse and distribution cluster that will serve population centers throughout Florida and the Southeast United States. Separate inland port alliances have been forged with the ports of Jacksonville and Palm Beach.
Stephen F. Blau, senior director at Wayne, Pa.-based real estate advisory firm Newmark Knight Frank Smith Mack, said the project is viable to support north-south trading patterns within the Americas, but may have minimal impact on east-west trade routes, considering that Florida's location does not lend itself to serving large portions of the country through distribution hubs.
Blau said he is impressed by the project's size and scope. He added, however, that it's "not the greatest thing since sliced bread."