Commercial market: South America, Europe driving Miami office sector

May.May 02, 2012 05:30 PM

Miami’s office market is beginning to show signs of strength, supported by foreign firms from South America and Europe looking to tap the Americas. What was once a trend of very small operations looking to get a foothold in Miami, foreign companies are now beginning to take larger spaces.

“They’re coming from South America and from Europe,” said Christian Driussi, vice president and general manager at Brickell Bay Office Tower in downtown Miami.

Miami’s market has been improving as of late, according to a report from Colliers International South Florida released last week.

The office sector’s progress hasn’t yet been reflected in rents, and the vacancy rate has been dropping across the board, with Miami-Dade’s overall office vacancy down near 16 percent, according to the report.

As The Real Deal reported last year, some of the Latin American buyers driving Miami’s residential boom had begun exploring small-scale office space.

Now, those small leases are turning into 2,000-, 5,000-plus-square-foot offices, according Blanca Commercial Real Estate CEO Tere Blanca.

“We continue to see the trickle effects of companies coming from South America and Europe opening offices in Miami,” she said. “It’s now the case that they’re large relocations, although others have smaller requirements.”

Many of those firms are coming from the reinsurance and banking sectors, she said.

Blanca said 1450 Brickell would officially announce the relocation of a major Latin company within the next 60 days that executed a lease for the whole floor.

“It’s not just South America,” she said. “We’re not talking specifically about any one country, but global companies that either have or had a presence are expanding to these markets that Miami offers to run their business regionally.”

That undisclosed tenant is likely be Miller Latin America, which reportedly took a full-floor lease at the property in March, according to the Miami Herald.

“I think Miami is becoming more and more international, so you continue to see South Americans coming to Miami’s [commercial market],” Driussi said.

While foreign tenants are helping drive growth, another trend is showing life: expansions.

According to Blanca’s Danet Linares, seven of the tenants at 1450 Brickell either have expanded or are in the process of expanding.

“Because of the economy, [tenants] feel they are in a better situation now and are ready to continue to grow, and part of that growth requires more office space,” Driussi said.

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