In This Real Estate Market, Medical Complexes Hot

, Daily Business Review

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Steven Hurwitz
Steven Hurwitz

Medical complexes are the newest hot commodity in commercial real estate, thanks to Obamacare and aging baby boomers.

Hospitals and health care providers expect increased insurance revenue under the Affordable Care Act, encouraging investors to turn their attention to the health arena.

Across South Florida, brokers are reporting a spike in demand from traditional sources and newcomers to the market.

"They're competing very heavily now," said Scott O'Donnell, senior vice president of investment properties for CBRE Group Inc. "What we're seeing is that there are large medical practices and hospitals who are buying up medical campuses. The buyer pool is actually expanding. More traditional office buyers are now looking to acquire medical office buildings."

Health care-related deals now account for up to 35 percent of his sales compared to 20 percent in 2012, said O'Donnell, who previously focused on office and industrial real estate.

In the South Miami market, broker Steven Hurwitz has seen increased demand from emergency rooms and outpatient surgical centers. In the Village of Merrick Park shopping complex in Coral Gables, for instance, three potential tenants are vying for space at 4425 Ponce de Leon Blvd.

"We've got product in Aventura, South Miami, Kendall, Coral Gables­­—all of which have seen an interest in activity on the medical side," he said. "We have several properties in Coral Gables where historically there was very little demand, but now we have two or three groups that are all interested in the same space. Hospitals appear to be expanding their footprint with secondary locations."

Uncertainty about changes in federal health laws crippled the sector two years ago, but brokers say real estate demand is on the rise as companies begin to understand the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

"Hospitals have a slightly different model as they're anticipating increased demand," said Charles Barton, managing principal at Cresa South Florida, which specializes in tenant-focused commercial real estate. "They're anticipating that there will be more patients who will be insured, and they are looking forward to providing service to those people directly as opposed to getting referrals."

Clients are looking for space large enough for five or six physicians instead of offices big enough for two or three. And instead of leasing 3,000 square feet, they now want 5,000.

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