BREVARD COUNTY, FL — Last month Ken Kurtz, CCIM, acquired the majority interest in NAI Rauch Weaver Norfleet Kurtz & Co. in Broward County and rebranded the firm as NAI Kurtz. Concurrently, he opened a new NAI office in Melbourne to serve Brevard County, also called NAI Kurtz.
GlobeSt.com caught up with Kurtz to find out why he expanded into Brevard County and where he sees growth heading in the commercial real estate sector.
First, what motivated you to buy out your partners at the 52-year-old firm formerly known as NAI Rauch Weaver Norfleet Kurtz & Co.?
Some of my partners are retiring and it was an opportunity for me to expand and grow the company going forward. The Florida economy is as healthy as it has been in a long time and demand remains high for premium real estate services in all the property sectors we serve, including office, industrial, retail, investment and land. Tell us about the expansion into Brevard County (commonly called the Space Coast because of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral).
The region reminds me of Fort Lauderdale where I grew up over 40 years ago, and look at Fort Lauderdale now. The quality of life in Brevard County is excellent, the pace is a little slower than South Florida, there’s less traffic and better weather. Generally it’s a little cooler because the central coast is further away from the Gulf Stream. Further, U.S News and World Report recently ranked Melbourne as the number 1 place to live near the beach in the U.S. Yet the real motivation to open the Melbourne office was the business opportunities along the central coast of Florida.
What are some of the key drivers for real estate services in Brevard County?
Brevard County is experiencing tremendous growth in the technology, defense, and space aviation sectors and is creating demand for all sectors of commercial real estate. Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin have a large presence in the region, General Electric is located across the street from Northrup Grumman. L3 Harris Technologies, an aerospace company and an affiliate of Harris Corporation, is also in Melbourne. In addition, the private space exploration industry is unofficially headquartered in the region. Both SpaceX (Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin maintain operations in the area.
What may be some other reasons why the Space Coast is poised for growth?
Orlando’s economy is and has been booming for years, and only 35 minutes away. We expect the submarkets in and around Orlando to continue growing. With Virgin Group’s (headed by Sir Richard Branson) recent announcement of their investment in the private higher-speed passenger rail service, Brightline, and its plans to expand services from Miami north through the Space Coast to Orlando, I’m certain that there will be expanded growth in the Cape Canaveral region. Since renamed Virgin Trains, the former Brightline recently broke ground on 170 miles of new track in the intermodal facility located in the South Terminal at the Orlando International Airport as part of the company’s Phase 2 expansion into Central Florida. It’s just a matter of time before Orlando and Miami are linked by commuter rail and Brevard County is going to be one of the beneficiaries of the new train service.