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Jax's commercial real estate ranks among worst

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The Times-Union

Jacksonville remains one of the worst-performing commercial real estate markets in the nation, according to a report issued this week by Moody's Investors Service.

Moody's Red-Yellow-Green Report, a quarterly assessment of real estate markets, gave Jacksonville an overall score of 41 out of 100, with 100 being strongest, for the fourth quarter of 2004, with only Stamford, Conn. and New Orleans ranking lower.

In addition to ranking markets numerically, Moody's also assigns traffic light colors to markets based on vacancy and absorption rates in the areas of multifamily, retail, downtown office, suburban office, industrial and hospitality real estate.

Jacksonville rated a "red" in three of the five categories Moody's measured in the fourth quarter: downtown office, suburban office and retail. The other two categories measured, multifamily and industrial, rated "yellow." Jacksonville was the only market in the nation whose retail sector received a "red" rating, scoring a 23 out of 100 based on high supply-to-demand ratios.

"Further, Jacksonville's construction pipeline remains extremely robust, outpacing demand growth by a full 2 percent," wrote the report's authors.

Jacksonville's overall score on the Moody's report dropped five points from the third quarter of 2004, when the market scored a 46.

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I agree, this is a tough market for anyone looking to get into commercial real estate. There seems to be a strip mall or publix popping up on every corner in the suburban areas of town. We already have too much office space and the upscale retail market will be served by the St. Johns Town Center.

The only area I see, prime for new commercial space will be downtown and some of the inner city neighborhoods. However, we're still about 5 years away before its fully needed in these areas as well.

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