Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On-Site and Online Technology a Faster Way to Size Up Commercial Properties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On-Site and Online Technology a Faster Way to Size Up Commercial Properties

Article excerpt

As Mark Dolan drove to the Riverside office building, he knew what lay ahead.

"This building is for sale and needs to be researched," said Dolan, who is a research photographer for CoStar Group Inc., a Bethesda, Md.-based company.

A public company traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market, CoStar provides online access to information about commercial office space for commercial real estate firms.

The computer that is mounted in the front seat of the shiny new four-wheel-drive pickup truck Dolan drives already had some of the information about the Riverside building. He was there to make sure the data is updated and accurate. The technology allows his location and the information he gathers to be instantly updated at the company's hub in Maryland.

CoStar is driven by the Internet to provide information about the building's appearance and its surroundings faster to commercial real estate brokers. The company has been expanding over the past year to check out more vacant and leased commercial office space nationwide.

"What is new is that CoStar is beginning to cover Jacksonville more," said Jim Citrano, managing director of the local office of CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate firm.

In May 1999, there were about six field researchers like Dolan. Now, there are 30, and the company hopes to increase the number of researchers to at least 50 by the end of the year, said Harlan Hamlin, director of communications and engineering for CoStar.

The increase in researchers will include three assigned to the First Coast.

For now, Dolan is the only researcher covering an area that encompasses territory from St. Petersburg to Jacksonville. The company also has researchers nationwide.

The trucks they drive are equipped with Global Positioning Systems, which use satellites to keep track of the trucks' location -- within one meter of accuracy. …

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