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Excitement building for projects

Concourse Office Park offering latest in high-tech amenities

Mississippi Gulf Coast — Although there are a lot of homes being built and new retail businesses opening on the Coast, the inventory of office space has changed little in the last 12 months. For the most part, business and professional people looking for office space must build their own or rent in small complexes and renovated old buildings and former homes.

But there is one exception. Commercial Realtor Doug Molyneaux with Sawyer Realty in Gulfport is excited about the executive suite concept being used for one of the buildings of the Concourse Office Park on Airport Road near the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport in Gulfport. The facility is within 60 to 90 days of completion and 30% to 40% of the space is committed. Molyneaux says that has happened with no marketing. All the up-and-coming technologies are being used for this class A space.

‘Smartest space in Mississippi’

“This will be the most technologically-advanced, smartest space in Mississippi,” he said. “It’s as nice as you’ll ever see. We’re sparing no expense on finishing with wood, granite and brass and state-of-the-art communications. It’s wired for everything.”

The offices, ranging from 150 to 300 square feet, are ideal for a typical one-man office. The suites will share a common conference room and a virtual receptionist with a live person appearing on a screen to announce appointments. This person can be located anywhere in the world and can answer telephones for office tenants.

“We’re pioneering this concept. It’s a true 21st century space,” Molyneaux said. “There are probably not many offices in the Southeast like this. It’s interesting and we’re having fun with it.”

He said the concept makes sense for one executive to have an office in a nice space with shared functions. The conference room is set up so other people can come in and give presentations, too. Faxes are received through each person’s e-mail. Space will lease for $24 to $25 a square foot because of the technology and extra services.

Of the other four buildings making up the complex, there is 4,000 square feet of space available and 5,600 not complete on one floor. Space here leases for $17 per square foot.

Molyneaux said there is half a floor available in the new Peoples Bank Building on 30th Avenue in Gulfport for $16 per square foot and up. The Cedar Lake Road area in Biloxi continues to be an active spot with space in the Landmark Building leasing for $16.50. Tenants pay their own utilities and janitorial service, too. Space here leases for $17 per square foot.

Going downtown?

Gulfport Realtor Marvin Koury laments that nothing new has come on the market in downtown Gulfport. “There’s talk, but it’s still just talk. There are no permits and nothing has come out of the ground,” he said. “The parking issue is still the same, and we all know the parking garage across from the federal building is the wrong thing in the wrong place.”

He said this federal courthouse building on 15th Street has pulled some federally-funded tenants out of other places. The Hancock Bank Building, Markham Building and attorney Mark Davis’ 15th Place are all full. The going rate for space is $9 to $13 per square foot for B or C+ space. Koury says that’s getting to be the average although there is still some space available for $5 to $7.

“Tenants are moving into the Markham Building and doing upgrades,” he said. “The market is dictating that and it is changing. We’re no longer seeing little cube offices there.”

In the Orange Grove area of Gulfport, a $2.5-million twin complex of office suites is being built on U.S. 49 just north of the WIN Job Center. This facility will provide 9,000 square feet of space to be finished to fit tenants’ needs. Optometrist Craig Belk and State Farm Insurance agent E.J. Roberts are building the complex and each will occupy a suite fronting the highway.

The advantage of ownership?

In Jackson County, Realtor Mark Cumbest says the Pascagoula-Moss Point market for office space is healthy and generally ranges in price from approximately $8 to $13 per square foot depending upon the location and condition of the property.

“Lately, I have been involved in the sale of office buildings along the Coast to established companies who recognize the advantage of ownership from an investment standpoint,” he said. “Because of this, we are seeking more availability of office space for lease.”

Cumbest, owner/broker of Cumbest Realty for 30 years, began his first term on the State Real Estate Commission July 1 representing the Fourth Congressional District. He worked as a co-broker for a recent office conversion in Pascagoula.

“It was a unique conversion when Northrop Grumman leased the former K-mart building on Highway 90,” he said. “Dramatic changes were made to turn an empty 94,000 square-foot retail store into a very attractive and functional office facility.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.


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