When Alan Sheppard, Jr. was a boy, he kept a globe in his room. It sparked an interest in geography – by age 12 he knew all the world’s capitals – and thusly, travel.
“I like to go to places that are beautiful and have a rich history,” said Sheppard, a shareholder for Greenberg Traurig; his practice is focused on real estate finance and development. “I try to get immersed in the local culture to gain a better understanding, meet local people, and get off the beaten path….”
And that includes quite a bit of travel in the States. In late September he had just returned from Phoenix, where he attended the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Conference.
Sheppard has been active in NAIOP (the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties) for nearly 20 years. He’s served as the Florida president. He’s on the national Board of Directors. And most recently, he accepted an appointment to the Board of Governors for the NAIOP Research Foundation.
“(NAIOP is) face of commercial development," he said in a recent interview. "And the association has many aspects – including a huge education component – which I think is one of the best benefits of membership.”
NAIOP’s Research Foundation fosters building better communities through practical research and education that advances the quality and makes evident the benefits of commercial real estate ownership and development.
And Sheppard believes the Central Florida region is ripe for impressive growth.
“I think that the I-4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando is poised to be the industrial logistics hub for the entire state,” he said. “We’re seeing a marriage of industrial and real estate development. Online retailers have been changing the habits of American shoppers and they’ve been building fulfillment centers which are essentially specialized warehouses geared to be close to their customers.”
He cites examples like Williams Sonoma, Walmart and Amazon as retailers “focused on delivery of product more quickly to online shoppers, and this area is really positioned very well for that.”
And Sheppard’s premonitions are often quite sound. He has quite the Florida real estate legacy, in fact.
A native son, born and raised in Pensacola, he grew up amid his father’s real estate practice (the firm, Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon, is still around today) and from early on had a sense that he’d follow suit.
A semester-long college internship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., helped nurture his love of the law. “It was a fascinating experience to be a part of the process that facilitates change and learn how policy is formed.”
And a junior year abroad in Florence, Italy, helped nurture his love of travel. Sheppard has been back to Italy multiple times (a couple of trips were just to attend language school), holding onto – and improving – on the language he loved and learned. He enjoys dusting it off for Italian clients from time to time, as well.
It’s been awhile since Sheppard has visited Lo Stivale, though he did consider it briefly this past summer before deciding instead on the Caribbean. Traveling with his 15-year-old son (his eldest, 19, had to stay home and work), they did some father-son bonding amid the French island culture of St. Barth’s.
“We went to a different beach every day,” he said, a bit travel-dreamy with the memory of windsurfing and paddleboarding. “It was fabulous. I’d definitely go back.”
But the busy attorney has a bucket list to attack, as well – Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, the Eastern European nation of Slovenia (“they speak Italian there!”) and Thailand’s beautiful blue-green beaches all have a place on it.
On the home front, Sheppard hopes that he and his Floridian colleagues in NAIOP can continue to press state legislators on issues of importance to the real estate community.
“When we had the budget surplus last year, we spent a lot of time lobbying the legislature,” he explained. Florida has lost large bids recently, he theorized, at least in part due to being the only state that imposes a sales tax on commercial rent.
“Airbus just built their first manufacturing facility outside of Europe in Mobile, Alabama,” he said. “Mercedes Benz chose Savannah over Jacksonville…. It’s been interesting following the bill through the process. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re definitely going to try again.”