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How the Warehouse Boom Changed the Way America Looks, Lives, and Works

Originally published on October 19, 2022, for Business Insider.

As the US emerged from the Great Recession, cheap real estate and the rise of e-commerce collided to create a warehousing boom.

As Amazon and others began building million-square-foot distribution centers, construction skyrocketed. Since 2011, over 2.3 billion square feet of new warehouse space has come to market — enough room to comfortably stuff 3 ½ Manhattans inside.

Past industrial booms created coal countries, steel cities, and oil towns. Now warehouse boomtowns shoot up in places like California's Inland Empire, Pennsylvania's Lehigh County, and Columbus, Ohio, and the number of warehouse workers has nearly tripled in a decade.

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From Salt Storage Facility to Concert Venue

Originally published in the Fall 2022 Issue of NAIOP's Development Magazine.

The Morton Salt Company warehouse on Elston Avenue in Chicago once furnished tons of preservative salt for the city’s tanning industry. Today it is itself preserved — a city landmark in the process of rebirth as a concert venue combined with commercial and office space.  

The complex, containing several buildings in a 4.2-acre site along the North Branch of the Chicago River, is being transformed to contain a 30,000-square-foot indoor concert venue in the former salt storage shed, 60,000 square feet of leasable office and commercial space in what had been a three-floor packaging building, additional space in a former garage, and an outdoor performance venue in the footprint of a recently demolished second salt shed.

The site is in the city’s North Branch Industrial Corridor, which has seen considerable development since partial rezoning in 2017 to encourage mixed-used development. The zoning of this site changed from M3-3, Heavy Industry District, to C3-3, Commercial, Manufacturing and Employment District.

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Walmart unveils next-gen fulfillment center

Originally published on September 28, 2022, by Dan Berthiaume for Chain Store Age.

Walmart is debuting a proprietary supply chain automation system in its new high-tech fulfillment center.

Located in Joliet, Ill., and described as the "first-of-its-kind" for Walmart,  the 1.1 million-sq.-ft, high-tech facility is the first of four state-of-the-art fulfillment centers dedicated to e-commerce that Walmart plans to open during the next three years. It will store millions of items available on Walmart.com, that are then picked, packed, and shipped directly to customers.

The new center will also fulfill third-party Walmart Marketplace items shipped by Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), the company's end-to-end fulfillment service for third-party e-commerce sellers.

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Many US Renters Rely on Self Storage, with GenX as Top Users

Originally published on September 20, 2022, by Maria Gatea for NAIOP Blog.

E-commerce provides easy access to goods with the click of a button, filling homes with stuff, stuff and more stuff. Meanwhile, the trendy minimalist lifestyle emphasizes only keeping what is needed and eliminating everything else. Where does the average American end up on the spectrum of goods ownership? As it turns out, among apartment renters, one in five uses self-storage to manage their belongings, at least temporarily.

Self-storage is a rapidly developing service that assists in life events such as moving, downsizing, or changes in family size. More recently, the widespread need to create home offices with the rise of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the traditional sources of demand for self-storage. Renters, in particular, are finding more use for storage away from home as they move more often, and apartments are generally smaller. On average, renter-occupied homes in the U.S. are smaller than owner-occupied homes by largely 800 square feet. As a result, many renters are using self-storage as an extension of their homes.

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Retail-industrial Trend Poised to Spark Real Estate Innovation

Vans

By Linda Strowbridge 


Growing convergence between the retail and distribution sectors could have profound impacts on the commercial real estate industry. As retail and industrial clients adjust to shifts in consumer behavior and the overall economy, CRE professionals will be challenged to change their thinking about how to truly serve their clients. That challenge, however, could also produce innovative real estate products and new opportunities. That’s according to Dustin C. Read, Ph.D./J.D., author of the NAIOP Research Foundation report, “New Places and New Spaces for E-commerce Distribution: Three Strategies Bringing Industrial and Retail Real Estate Closer Together.”

What was the most interesting or significant discovery you made while researching the paper?

Read: It was probably that some of the most important phenomena related to the convergence of industrial and retail real estate were the ones that received the least attention. In the popular press, there has been lots of discussion of the conversion of obsolete retail buildings into distribution facilities. When you really drill down – even though there have been hundreds of articles written on that topic – the number of [these retail-to-distribution conversion] projects that have been successful in the U.S. is relatively small. I was surprised to see when you really start pulling back layers of the onion, there is more talk about it than there is actual execution of those types of projects.

The amalgamation of all the obstacles a developer must overcome to do one of these projects successfully is significant. The project has to be acquired at a relatively low purchase price and have the right access to infrastructure. It must be in a market that has good industrial characteristics and an area where the municipality has given up on the site as a viable retail location and is willing to rezone it for potential distribution. When all those things come together at the same time, there are opportunities for conversion. But often, they don’t all come together.


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Can Industrial be a Good Neighbor in Residential Areas?

 

 

Industrial

By Trey Barrineau

Industrial properties are often built near neighborhoods, but that isn’t always popular with the residents, who have legitimate concerns about noise, traffic and pollution from the increased volume of trucks and vans.

A recent NAIOP online panel discussion examined how developers can work with local communities to address these worries through outreach and engagement, as well as with design and technological innovations.

“Education is key to establishing that relationship early on,” said Sven Tustin, executive vice president with Conor Commercial, who moderated the panel. “The developer has to listen to concerns. Residents look at a site plan that shows 200 dock doors, and they assume that there will be 200 trucks coming in and out 24/7.”

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Mitigating Environmental Risks in Life Science Leases

Dangerous chemicals and infectious diseases are among the many hazardous materials that are handled inside life science facilities. Getty Images
By Michael Pollack

A lot of hazardous material passes through these facilities, so caution is necessary.

Life science industries span a range of uses — clinical research and trials; biologics; medical devices; pharmaceuticals; vaccines research, development, manufacturing, and distribution; plant and animal technology; and veterinary products, to name just a few. Leases for life science facilities can present unique challenges and considerations for building owners. Besides the particular demands life science uses place on electrical capacity, HVAC, floor loads, and waste removal, the activities within these facilities can pose many other risks.

Inherent in many life science facilities is the utilization, storage, and/or distribution of hazardous or toxic materials under applicable environmental laws. Of course, most common leases will contain standard indemnification clauses allocating responsibility to the tenant for losses resulting from its activities. 

When it comes to environmental issues, though, there are unique concerns for owners of life science properties. These include the ecological indemnity the principal owners provide to their lender (which typically comes from a well-funded source other than the property owner). There’s also the strict liability imposed under federal law on anyone in the chain of title for additional cleanup costs, whether or not they caused the contamination. 

Also, another lingering fact involves the owner would typically only have recourse from the tenant for a breach of the lease’s environmental restrictions.

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Top Five US Metros for Life Sciences In 2022

Life sciences

TOP FIVE US METROS FOR LIFE SCIENCES IN 2022

By 

Growth in the life sciences sector has driven demand in recent years for both commercial real estate space and labor to accommodate this specialized sector. A new study by commercial real estate platform CommercialCafe set out to identify the best metros for life science companies in 2022 and assessed more than 40 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in terms of regional talent pool and workforce; accessibility of local office markets; the degree of availability of existing dedicated property; as well as the state of the local pipeline aiming to expand local life sciences capacity.

Boston took the number one spot on the list, with San Francisco in second place, then San Diego third, New York fourth, and Washington, D.C., rounding out the top five.

A longtime “flagship market” for life sciences, the Boston metropolitan area remains a leader in the sector. The MSA stood out for several key indices scored in the ranking: Boston boasts the largest labor pool among the metros analyzed, as well as the largest life sciences real estate market — nearly 25 million square feet of existing dedicated property, of which just under 14 million square feet was LEED-certified space. What’s more, with an additional 23.8 million square feet of new life sciences developments in the pipeline — under construction, as well as in the planned and prospective stages — Boston seems firmly placed at number one for the foreseeable future.

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The Unexpected Challenges (and Solutions) of Multilevel Warehouse Design

Costco
  • By Russ Hazzard, Jonathan Chang, Development Magazine (photo of Vancouver, B.C. Costco by Raef Grohne)

Experiences in Canada and Asia provide case studies for building these complex properties.

Over the past 15 years, multilevel warehouses — particularly those used for retail purposes — have been a growing trend across Asia and, more recently, in the United States. However, some challenges accompany their design and construction that are not encountered in the traditional approach to large-format retail. With operational criteria at the top of the list, these challenges vary heavily based on several factors, including location, footprint, environment, jurisdictional requirements, and cultural and community influences.

The increase in demand for and construction of multilevel warehouses has unearthed numerous unique considerations not present in traditional warehouse environments. These challenges — each intricate in their own right — have required creative solutions and careful programming to successfully bring each project to life.

Parking and Vehicle Flow

One of the most critical design challenges for vertical warehouses is the traffic flow of vehicles and the structure’s parking. While the goal is to keep the sales level on a single floor for ease of operations and the consumer’s shopping experience, parking for multilevel warehouses can reside either above or below grade. Both options have pros and cons: Below-grade parking requires excavation, which can increase costs and complications. However, it provides a solution for lot coverage or height restrictions in situations where those apply. Above-grade or rooftop parking is preferred as it saves both construction time and money.

Customized resolutions to optimize vehicle traffic flow and increase ease of parking have also been employed, varying from warehouse to country to country. For example, in Sinjhuang, Taiwan, indication lights for open parking spaces are used to determine capacity at a glance. In Suzhou, China, car ramps at the entrance steer customers directly up to each floor, allowing them to bypass complete levels. Larger-than-regulation parking spaces — typically very compact in Asia — are also used, granting customers peace of mind. There is no need to worry about maneuvering around tightly packed vehicles in the garage. As an added benefit, large spaces also increase vehicle flow; running in and out of an area is completed in one move vs. two or three.

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NAIOP on Carried Interest and Update on Senate Passage of Reconciliation Bill

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a $740 billion budget reconciliation measure with provisions to address climate change and energy security, extend federal healthcare subsidies, and allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. As we informed you last week, the bill, which had been negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), contained a proposal changing the taxation of carried interests that would have harmed the commercial real estate industry and real estate entrepreneurs.

When the Schumer-Manchin agreement was announced, NAIOP and NAIOP Arizona, along with our national real estate allies, mobilized to support Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in her efforts to oppose the proposed changes to carried interest. In order to ensure her vote, the proposal was dropped from the bill before the legislation was brought up for floor debate.

We are gratified that the concerns of NAIOP and the real estate industry were considered on this very important issue. For more than a decade, NAIOP has successfully opposed various proposals to alter the tax treatment of carried interests, or “promotes” as they are known in real estate. While characterized in the media as affecting Wall Street hedge fund managers, these tax increases would have had a much broader economic impact, impacting real estate partnerships, the venture capital industry and others. We have been engaged with policymakers long before this latest proposal was introduced, and our members’ support has been extremely helpful.

Senator Sinema promised to continue working with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to develop legislation reforming carried interest taxation. I want to assure every NAIOP member that, on this and the other important issues affecting commercial real estate, we and our NAIOP chapters will continue our strong advocacy on behalf of you and our industry.

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City Council Members Meet with NAIOP Charlotte for LWAL

Last week, NAIOP members met with City Council Candidates Dimple Ajmera and Marjorie Molina to discuss important issues impacting Charlotte’s CRE industry.

LWAL two

The Lunch with a Leader series provides NAIOP Charlotte members an exclusive opportunity to meet and interact with key leaders in our community. Look for upcoming NAIOP Charlotte fall events here.

LWAL one

UDO Meeting Set For July 11; CLT Water Plan Review Back On

REBIC's Rob Nenfelt and his team put together this week's Two For Tuesday and UDO takes center stage early next week.

UDO - Public Hearing Scheduled for Monday

The Charlotte City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for Monday, July 11. The Council Action Review begins at 5:00 pm followed by the Public Forum/Business meeting at 6:30 pm. An agenda should be available here by Friday afternoon. Click here to sign up to speakRebic Logo

Also, Planning Staff has just released responses to public comments submitted prior to last Thursday's deadline. Additional changes will be reflected in the next and likely final draft when it is released which will occur prior to the expected vote on adoption in late August. Here's a link to the page containing the Second Draft Public Comments - With Staff Responses.

For additional UDO resources, please visit Charlotte's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) - (charlotteudo.org).

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Permit Reform Legislation Advances Following NAIOP’s N.C. Advocacy Day

BY TOBY BURKE,   

Members from NAIOP’s three chapters in North Carolina traveled to Raleigh last week to advance the priorities of the commercial real estate development industry in meetings with state lawmakers. The top priority for NAIOP of North Carolina, the state alliance of NAIOP chapters, is the passage and enactment of House Bill 291, permit reform legislation sponsored by State Representative Jeff Zenger.

Local building permits are an essential and fundamental requirement for the development and improvement of commercial and residential properties. However, the processes for obtaining these permits can vary by city and county in North Carolina. These variations lead to uncertainties and delays in projects moving forward, which can impact the costs, financing and contractional relationships with contractors and providers of construction equipment and materials.

The enactment of House Bill 291 would bring reforms to the permitting process similar to those advocated by our local chapter in Georgia which were ultimately enacted into law in that state. These reforms to the local permitting process bring more predictability and accountability, reducing uncertainty and unnecessary delays. Core elements of the bill include:

  • A local permitting entity has 21 days in which review the plans.
  • During the 21 days, the local entity shall resolve issues associated with the application and may seek additional information from the applicant.
  • If additional information is needed or the application must be resubmitted, the permitting entity has 15 days from receipt of the additional information to issue a permit.
  • If the local permitting entity is unable to meet the time parameters, the applicant or inspections department may seek approval from a certified third-party (engineer) or the Department of Insurance.

The North Carolina House of Representatives passed House Bill 291 in May of 2021 on bipartisan vote of 79-33, sending the bill to the state Senate. The legislation was eventually sent to the commerce and insurance committee in March for their consideration. Our meetings last week focused on urging Senate leadership and the committee chairs to move this important legislation forward before adjourning for the year as early as the end of June. NAIOP of North Carolina’s advocacy played a key role in HB 291 being scheduled the following day for a hearing before the insurance committee the subsequent week.


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Cold Storage: Demand, Design and Drivers

 

originally published by  KATHRYN HAMILTON, CAE for NAIOP National with permission to repost. 

Cold Storage

The need for cold storage facilities has exploded as e-commerce sales and grocery delivery demands multiplied during the last few years. Most cold storage facilities primarily handle food preparation or transit as products move toward consumers, but they can also be used for pharmaceutical, floral and chemical needs, among others, and frequently require varying temperature zones all under one roof.

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The Drive for Transportation Electrification

 

originally published by TOBY BURKE for NAIOP National with permission to repost. 

Electric Cars

Governments at every level are considering polices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both stationary and mobile sources as part of efforts to address climate change. Some of these efforts have centered on initiatives to lowering domestic use on fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum, natural gas and oil, by moving towards electric vehicles within our transportation system. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector is one of the highest sources of greenhouse gas emissions (29%) followed by electricity (25%).

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NAIOP I.CON Preview: What’s Ahead for the Industrial Market?

 

originally published by Connect CRE and shared with NAIOP National

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all our worlds two years ago this month when full-scale shutdowns weighed heavily on the economy and Americans recalibrated their approaches to work and life. Since then, industrial real estate has continued to shine as commercial real estate’s darling – fueled by soaring demand, rising rental rates, and record levels of investment and development activity.

Industrial real estate professionals from across North America will gather in Long Beach, California, on March 23-24, for NAIOP’s industrial conference. Keynote session panelist Dwight Merriman, Partner and Head of Industrial in the Real Estate Group of Ares Management Corporation, sat down with Connect CRE to preview his keynote session: an executive outlook on the future of industrial real estate.

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A New, Turbulent Era for Real Estate Supply Chains

 

originally published by  for Propmodo and shared with NAIOP National

Background Pic

If we’re looking at the effects of the broken supply chain on commercial real estate, it’s best to start at the beginning. And it all begins with the onset of the pandemic and its impact on manufacturers. Michigan Maple Block Company is a good example. On March 24, 2020, the Michigan Maple Block Company furloughed most of its 56 workers at its plant in Petoskey, Michigan.

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Seeing Past the Pandemic: Industrial Demand and U.S. Seaports

 

originally published by Brian Harper, Director of Data Science, Avison Young, and Aaron Ahlburn, Innovation Lead, Global Logistics, Avison Young for the NAIOP Research Foundation

NAIOP Research Pic

Supply chain disruptions have never been more salient to the average consumer. Congested seaports have received particular attention as record levels of inventory have piled up at ports and ships have been stuck offshore waiting to unload. While low levels of vacancy indicate robust current demand for industrial assets, developers, investors and building owners may wonder how closely industrial demand is tied to port activity and whether the current boom is sustainable.

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Industrial Real Estate Opportunities in U.S. First-Mile Markets

 

originally published by TJ Parker for NAIOP Research and Publications

Boxes and Belt Picture

Industrial remains the darling of commercial real estate during the current cycle. Investor enthusiasm has remained strong, with total returns as measured by the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) in double-digit territory over the past cycle and demand showing no signs of slowing, especially as supply chain issues remain a crucial consideration for businesses and real estate developers. While last-mile industrial has been the focus of much of this investment, first-mile industrial is starting to attract attention. 

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How Will Inflation Impact Commercial Real Estate?

 

originally published by GARY TASMAN for NAIOP National with permission to repost. 

Inflation Picture

 

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