Matt White, president of White-Spunner Realty, recently made a few predictions regarding commercial real estate growth and office space demand in Baldwin County moving into 2018 and beyond. 

In a news release, White covered the retail and industrial sectors and dished out his big-picture perspective on one of the fastest-growing counties in the country.

“With a greater demand for more residential lots on the Alabama Gulf Coast and Florida Panhandle, it stands to reason there will be more retail space needed with more rooftops in Baldwin County on Mobile’s Eastern Shore,” White said. “Smaller grocery-anchored centers will continue to locate around new neighborhoods, along with smaller retail power centers.”

He went on to say that retail brick and mortar businesses will continue to adapt to the new landscape Amazon has created around the country. The e-commerce giant has both the ability to deliver goods to the consumer and has the brick and mortar needed to serve its customer base.

Success has been seen for retailers opening in smaller developments in such sectors as hair salons, nail shops, pet grooming and cash-advance storefronts. Restaurants are increasingly paying more rent for ideal locations, according to White, which has in turn increased the cost of land for development.    

Despite Amazon’s disruption to grocery retailers nationally, White predicts Baldwin County could see up to eight more grocery stores set up shop in the area in the next five years. This will take shape with existing grocery providers locating a few typical-sized stores in the county as well as newer, smaller prototypes and new grocery entrants to the market.

Because the county’s residential growth shows no signs of slowing, residents will want the services and other items they need located conveniently close to where they live. Research also indicates that the median income of households moving into Baldwin County supports the additional community shopping centers that will emerge.

Regarding office space, White thinks demand for Class A property along the Eastern Shore will remain consistent. “When construction on the new bridge connecting Mobile and Baldwin County begins, more professionals will desire offices on the Eastern Shore,” he said. 

The Baldwin County Economic Development Association recently reported 11 percent growth in jobs in the manufacturing sector and 56 percent growth in the transportation and warehousing sector.
In the industrial sector, White foresees a continuing development of distribution facilities on both side of Mobile Bay, particularly in close proximity to the port, rail and interstate system.

“Wal-Mart is building one million square feet of warehouse space in West Mobile County and Amazon is building 400,000 square feet of warehouse space nearby just off Interstate 10. Similar projects will continue to be opportunities for commercial growth in Baldwin County,” he said. 

White went on to say more than 60 percent of the Baldwin County Economic Development Association’s 2017 projects have facility needs of more than 50,000 square feet and more than 40 percent of their projects have facility needs of over 100,000 square feet. He predicted the mega-site project in Bay Minette will yield dividends in due time.

“If you look at where the Department of Transportation is spending its money on this end of the state, Baldwin County has received fund allocations to build new roads in the county and has money allotted for new major roads,” he said.

White pointed out that four of the five fastest-growing Alabama cities are located in Baldwin County. The valuation of Foley’s commercial and residential building permits alone increased from $41 million in fiscal year 2016 to more than $137 million in fiscal year 2017. That’s at least a 232 percent increase in the value of residential and commercial projects permitted in Foley between 2016 and 2017.

Baldwin County is projected to become the fourth-largest county in Alabama by 2040, according to White. “The growth here will be nothing short of transformational in the next five years,” he said. 

Commercial real estate moves
• Ardent Services, a national provider of specialty electrical and instrumentation (E&I) services for process industries and new to the area, recently leased some 3,500 square feet of office/warehouse space located at 6255 Rangeline Road in Mobile this month. Lewis H. Golden of Hamilton & Co. represented the property owner in the transaction.

• Humana has leased some 4,100 square feet of medical space located at 3653 Airport Blvd. in Mobile. Allen Garsticky with JLL worked for Humana in the transaction.

• Dothan-based Goldfinger’s restaurant chain recently leased 3,000 square feet of fast casual space located at 3151 Dauphin St. in Mobile. Allen Garsticky and Buff Teague with JLL managed the transaction for Delaney Property Group, the developer.

• Lewis H. Golden of Hamilton & Co. recently represented the owners of 1751 Old Shell Road in leasing out Suite C of their historic midtown office building. Mobile-based advertising firm Mighty will occupy some 2,850 square feet of space at the site. 

David Dexter of NAI Mobile worked for Mighty in site selection and the lease transaction. The street-front Suite A, listed at 2,280 square feet, fronting Old Shell Road and directly across from the recently renovated Old Shell Lofts, is still available. 

• River Bank and Trust has recently released 1,800 square feet of office space located at 27900 North Main St. in Daphne. Lee Dale Younce with JLL managed the transaction.

• Memphis-headquartered retail auto parts giant AutoZone has announced the opening of a new location in Daphne in early 2018. Standard floorplan size is estimated to be around 2,000 square feet. Buff Teague with JLL worked for the retailer

Hand Arendall announces merger
Mobile-founded Hand Arendall LLC and Harrison Sale McCloy Attorneys at Law recently announced the merging of the two firms, effective Jan. 1, to become Hand Arendall Harrison Sale LLC.

Roger Bates, Hand Arendall LLC’s managing lawyer, has been tapped to oversee the new firm and Franklin Harrison, a founding partner of Harrison Sale McCloy, will join the firm’s executive committee and serve as the Florida office managing lawyer.

The new firm will have a footprint in Alabama, Northwest Florida and Mississippi. Areas of specialty will include real estate, business transactions, health care, commercial litigation, education and employment issues.