Port Cities Prepare for Panama Canal Expansion

Once the expansion is complete in early 2016, a wider canal will give shippers the option to bypass ports and their more expensive overland supply routes to go directly to ports in New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, Miami and around the East Coast. Because of cheaper per-unit costs, as much as 25 percent of West-bound cargo from Asia could move to the South and Northeast, according to a report by brokerage firm JLL.

After Panama approved plans to modernize the 100-year-old canal to allow for bigger ships that carry 2.5 times as much container cargo in 2006, the expansion threatened to disrupt the West Coast’s grasp on trade with Northeast Asia. More than 70 percent of United States container traffic from Asia passes through Pacific ports today, according to the Wall Street Journal. As much as a third of those containers travel through Los Angeles and Long Beach by truck and train to consumers in the eastern half of the country.

This expansion has led to a soar in investments in industrial real estate on the East Coast, specifically near the ports expected to be able to accommodate bigger ships, called post-Panamax vessels. Brokers warn that developers could over-anticipate the need for new warehouse space and negate the benefits of increased demand. There is more than 12 million square feet of new industrial space under construction at eastern and southern ports expected to handle post-Panamex vessels, according to Cassidy Turley. The ports of Houston, Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Miami and the Port of Everglades in Fort Lauderdale are expected to be ready by 2016, where new warehouse space is under construction.

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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