Orlando-area small businesses brace for rent surge

Local industrial lease rates rising faster than national average

ORLANDO, Fla. – As inflation numbers hit a 40-year high across the nation, rental rates for industrial and warehouse spaces were climbing faster in the Orlando metro area than other parts of the country.

Tom Whisner, who owns Apogee Productions in Longwood, said the pandemic crippled his concert and event business.

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“We had ramped up to where our big thing was doing touring and arena shows. That is what they just totally cut,” he said.

Two years later, he said relaxed COVID restrictions have allowed his business to come back “with a vengeance.”

Now, his landlord has sold the building, his lease is up and he’s being forced to find another space.

“This is a terrible time to have to be doing this because the shows are coming in pretty rapidly,” he said. “Everybody is trying to make up shows.”

Whisner said he’s also experiencing sticker shock.

“Rents on storage spaces and warehouses have doubled and tripled,” he said.

According to Whisner, he currently pays $6 per square foot.

He said comparable locations nearby are currently on the market for $18 per square foot.

“Right now, it’s a hot market for warehouse space,” David Brenner said.

Brenner is a realtor and a Commercial Council Member for Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

He specializes in commercial real estate.

“Normally, you take a look at real estate over a long period of time, and your increase might be 2 to 4%, and that was pretty standard,” he said. “In the last year, if your rent and lease are tied to CPI (Consumer Price Index), (it can go up) 7 to 8% year over year.”

According to data from the National Association of Realtors, commercial warehouse and industrial space in the Orlando metro area is rising faster that other parts of the country.

In 2020, commercial rent here rose approximately 4.5% annually. This year, the numbers show industrial rent has gone up 11.2% with only a 3% vacancy rate.

Brenner said he doesn’t see any signs of it leveling off.

“Look now. I don’t see it going down,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think this is the new normal.”

Whisner said he’s currently in the process of moving out of his space, and he still does not know where he’s moving to.

“We will get through, always have,” he said. “Over 50 years in the business and survived six-alarm fires and everything else. I’ve been burned out of places, but here we go again.”

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.