Years After the Financial Crisis, Orlando Construction is Coming Back Strong

Orlando, Florida, a city with an economy that is largely dependent on tourism and construction, was hit hard during the recent recession. “We were almost considered a pariah,” says Melissa Marcolini-Quinn, referring to financing for projects during and immediately following the recession.

Marcolini-Quinn, the senior director and SVP of NorthMarq’s Central Florida operations, stated that there were still many Orlando submarkets with strong performance during the recession, and to see so many lenders shy away from Florida at large was frustrating.

Despite these adversities, the days of financial hardship and instability due to the recent financial crisis have largely passed. Today, Orlando’s unemployment rate is below not only Florida’s average, but also the national unemployment rate. While some of this rebound can be attributed to an uptick in the tourism industry, much of it is due to a resurgence in the construction industry.

Marcolini-Quinn has speculated that construction and real estate markets are making a comeback across the board, from single family residential to commercial markets, as well as in multi-family buildings. Bobby Palta, a vice president with CBRE, has noted that retail real estate is also on the rebound, and that differing retail submarkets offer advantages for everyone involved. For example, pricing for class A product rents are at record highs, largely supportive of a landlords market. However, class C product is exactly the opposite, with lower prices supportive of a tenant’s market.


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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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