Lakeland-based SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler announced the opening of an office in Orlando, marking the fourth SVN | SRD office between Florida and Georgia.
The firm has appointed Rafael Mendez, CCIM, to lead the new office expansion. Mendez, who was named Managing Director, will be based in Orlando and oversee the new office’s operation. The firm has been listing and brokering real estate transactions in the Orlando area since 1996.
“Our decision to open an office in Orlando this fall is not only the result of SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate’s evolution as a full-service real estate firm but, more importantly, the result of how fast the Orlando CRE market has matured and morphed into a global destination for business,” Mendez said. “From industrial to office and retail, rental rates and occupancy have reached new heights. The Orlando CRE market has reached such a level of sophistication that it will be able to weather any market uncertainty caused by higher interest rates.”
Throughout his commercial real estate career, Mendez has consistently practiced business management, working with some large health industry leaders and legal system professionals. As a current board member for CCIM Central Florida District, Rafael has acquired a stronger business analytical mindset and developed the skills needed for his new role in Orlando.
“Rafael is a rising star in SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler, and his knowledge of the Orlando CRE market is an asset to our clients,” said Gary Ralston, partner and managing director of SVN | SRD. “Rafael, who is bilingual and bicultural, further diversifies our team to also better serve our Spanish-speaking clients who continue to create businesses and invest in the Orlando region. Over 33 percent of the Orange County population is Hispanic. To us, it is important our team reflects the demographics of the regions in which we operate.”
SVN | SRD saw the need to open an office in Orlando since the onset of the pandemic when businesses and entrepreneurs began to migrate to Florida from other less business-friendly states.
Mendez expects to see plenty of opportunities within the I-4 corridor for industrial, multifamily development, retail and medical office. The Orlando area has strong market fundamentals that include population migration into Orlando, with over 1000 newcomers coming to Orlando every week, an existing labor pool of over 1.4 million and strong job creation. Orlando is ranked No. 2 in the country for Job Growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021. In addition, regional and national companies are making Orlando their home, including AAA, Darden Restaurants and Travel + Leisure, as well as regional operations for KPMG, Siemens, Lockheed Martin, and Deloitte.
At its inception in 1996, “Saunders Real Estate, LLC” – as it was called – served as one of the premier land and conservation brokerages within Central Florida. Over time, Founder and Senior Advisor Dean Saunders, ALC, CCIM, grew the company into the premier commercial real estate brokerage that it is now, SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler. Today, the firm has offices in Lakeland, Lake City, Orlando, and Thomasville, Georgia.
“It is fulfilling to see how far we have come as a team,” Saunders said. “We’re no longer just a land brokerage firm. Instead, we have become a full-service real estate firm over the years and ready to serve the growing demand for CRE in the Orlando market.”
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