A Winning Season

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2007

In this issue, we recognize outstanding architects and their commercial designs in our annual feature, “Commercial Designs of Distinction.” This year we had an exceptional crop of projects from which to choose. We loved cover architect Guy Peterson’s modern redo of a St. Armands restaurant and expansion of a North Trail luxury lighting business. In both cases, he turned not-so-spectacular buildings into exciting spaces filled with light, color and intriguing materials.

On the other end of the design spectrum, we applaud Scott Proffitt and Shane Saah for their determination to authentically restore the circa-1925 Archibald Building, which houses their popular Main Bookshop. Peterson’s modern approach and Proffitt and Saah’s return to 1920s architecture show that good design spans the eras. It’s also an important element of business; a well-designed building invites people inside and sets a tone, whether it’s to encourage a customer to linger over a glass of wine, buy a lamp or sign a contract. All 12 buildings we selected fit this description.

And be sure to check out the “Top 10 Deals,” our report on the biggest commercial real estate transactions of the year. Most of the buyers are out-of-towners, and while the dollar value of the top 10 sales is $243 million compared to last year’s $412 million, those buyers prove that Sarasota and Manatee still appear attractive to investors.

How long will this last? That remains to be seen. The credit crunch may slow development and sales of commercial real estate. Local brokers say the market is getting softer, but they don’t expect a meltdown like that in the residential sector. Wayne Archer, who heads up the University of Florida’s Center for Real Estate Studies, feels comfortable in predicting a fairly stable commercial market in Florida. “Overbuilding does not exist,” he says. “Occupancies are reasonably high, and projections of occupancy are reasonably good.”

We’re also proud to announce that for the fourth consecutive year—as many years as we’ve been publishing—Biz941 has been recognized for excellence by the Florida Magazine Association. We won a first-place Charlie award for Johannes Werner’s column, “Outside In,” a second-place award for our headline writing and a third-place award in the category of public service coverage for Werner’s “Going Naked,” an in-depth look at the plight of uninsured workers in Sarasota and Manatee.

As always, it’s a pleasure to work with all our talented writers, photographers and illustrators—we couldn’t do it without them—and an honor to provide you with information and insights to help you run your businesses successfully. I welcome all suggestions and feedback—you can call me at (941) 487-1102 or e-mail [email protected]

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