Article provided by Carmen Austin, MBA, CCIM, Associate Broker for Saurage Commercial Real Estate

With estimates of the economic losses of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill already as much as $11 billion in counties along Florida’s Gulf Coast alone, owners of income-generating property throughout Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi face varying degrees of financial exposure to the crisis.

Perhaps no commercial property owner is more exposed to the spill across its portfolio as the St. Joe Co. (NYSE: JOE), one of Florida’s largest real estate development companies and northwest Florida’s largest private landowner. Jacksonville-based St. Joe, primarily engaged in real estate development and sales, owned about 577,000 acres as of March 31 — primarily in Florida’s northwest Panhandle, where the coast could be under siege by the oil slick for months.

About 70% of St. Joe’s property is within 15 miles of the Gulf of Mexico, where a BP plc drilling rig exploded April 20 roughly 175 miles to the southwest, killing 11 crew members and causing a massive deepwater oil leak. The company’s land-use entitlements in hand or in process totaled about 31,600 residential units and about 11.6 million square feet of commercial space as of March 31, as well as an additional 646 acres with land-use entitlements for commercial uses. So it’s hardly a surprise that St. Joe has been especially active in monitoring the spill.

As brown tar balls began washing up on the sugary white sand of Florida Panhandle beaches this week, the U.S. Coast Guard calculated the amount of Gulf coastline affected by the spill at 120 linear miles and growing. Tar was expected to wash up as far east as Okaloosa County between Santa Rosa and Walton beaches and northwest winds are expected to push the oil slowly along the Panhandle coast in coming days.

From Biloxi, MS, to Mobile Bay to Pensacola, crews continued to lay containment boom and hoist red “no swimming” flags on the beaches.

In the potential path of the oil slick are two tony St. Joe resorts on the Panhandle, the WaterColor Inn & Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, about 65 miles east of Pensacola, and WaterSound, about 20 miles northwest of Panama City. As of Wednesday, St. Joe reported that neither beach property showed evidence of tar damage or imminent threat from the spill.  To read this article in its entirety article click [here]. 

Carmen has been a practicing commercial real estate broker with Saurage Commercial Real Estate since 2001. She is a graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU) E.J. Ourso College of Business and the LSU Flores Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance Her experience includes past employment as Regional Director of Leasing at Commercial Properties Realty Trust the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Carmen’s affiliations include Louisiana REALTORS®, Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment DivisionInternational Council of Shopping CentersCommercial Real Estate WomenCertified Commercial Investment Member InstituteNational Association of REALTORS®, and Urban Land Institute. She is also an active volunteer on the board of directors for the Baton Rouge GalleryLSU MBA Alumni AssociationJunior Achievement of Baton Rouge, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge.

Saurage Company, Inc dba Saurage Commercial Real Estate was founded in Baton Rouge in 1991 with the purpose of providing exceptional real estate services with an emphasis on commercial property and property management. Saurage Commercial Real Estate offers to its clients a full range of real estate services including brokerage, investment advising, development consulting, REO disposition specialists, asset management, fee based consulting, tenant representation, and buyer representation. The staff of professionals includes combined experience of 50 years, as well as CCIM Designees and Candidates and recipients of Master of Business Administration.