Laura Oliver and Adam Haydock of Chicago, center, look over a map of the area while waiting in line Frida at the Hertz rental car counter at Southwest Florida International Airport. The rental car giant plans on building a $50.5 million corporate office in Estero. / Amanda Inscore/news-press.com
In-depth coverage: Special page on Hertz's impact and what it means for SW Fla.
Devastated by the 2008 housing market crash and ensuing recession, Southwest Florida’s construction industry has been in need of a spark.
Local construction firms hope Hertz provides just that.
The Fortune 500 rental car company plans on building a $50.5 million corporate office in Estero. The 300,000-square-feet facility will create 1,704 jobs and have a $190.2 million annual economic impact to Lee County by 2017, FGCU economist Gary Jackson said.
“This type of project coming to our market is like a huge magnet for all the specialty trades that left in the downturn,” said Bruce Fields, senior vice president for Manhattan Construction in Naples. “Not only will this help the local economy in terms of creating jobs, but it’s going to help the subcontractors stay here and attract more people to the area.”
The Hertz headquarters project could be a boon to one of Southwest Florida’s largest construction firms — Manhattan Construction and Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. in Fort Myers.
Manhattan, which built JetBlue Park, the Boston Red Sox spring training stadium in south Fort Myers, and Owen-Ames-Kimball, which built Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers, expressed interest to The News-Press in building the project but have not been contacted by Hertz. Theyexpect Hertz to hire a local firm over a national entity.
“We know the county, the city and the people working in permitting,” said Jan-Erik Hustrulid of Owen-Ames-Kimball. “We have thousands of subcontractors we work with.”
Hertz CEO Mark P. Frissora, in an exclusive interview with The News-Press, said the company has been working with architects but hasn’t selected a contractor yet.
Hustrulid expects other spin-off companies to come to the area when the Estero building construction starts next year. Hertz employees moving to Southwest Florida from Hertz’s headquarters in New Jersey also will need homes when the building is completed in 2015.
Bob Knight, president of the Cape Coral-based Paul Homes, expects home sales to increase. Subcontractors should also pick up jobs. Knight said the decision could even inspire other Fortune 500 companies to relocate here because he said they all keep tabs on each other.
“This Fortune 500 company is not coming here because they want to help this community out,” Knight said. “They think this area is taking off, and they want to be part of this action. So by them coming here you’re going to see a lot of spinoffs that we can’t even think about right now.”
The 300,000-square-foot facility would be one of the largest offices in Lee and Collier counties, Bonita Springs commercial broker Matt Stepan said.
Bonita Springs’ Riverview Corporate Center, which houses magazine publisher Source Interlink, has 330,000 square feet, but Stepan said about 50 percent of the property is leased. Naples medical device manufacturer Athrex Inc. recently purchased a 240,000-square-foot building in Naples.
“In a market like Chicago and New York, there are a lot of 100,000-square-foot office spaces,” Stepan said. “In a tertiary market like Southwest Florida, we don’t see these kinds of offices. So this is a real big deal. I couldn’t begin to estimate the economic impact for all of the secondary jobs created.”
Hertz has already started looking for temporary office space, Frissora said. The company hopes to have as many as 200 people working in the temporary space in the fourth quarter of the year or early 2014. He said the company has several sites it’s looking into, but he wouldn’t say where.