HEARTLAND SNAPSHOT, MAY 2011

Columbus Industrial Market

Trott

With market conditions in the Columbus region still quite soft, the nation’s 15th largest city boasts a growing incentive that could prove attractive for those looking to acquire industrial space — logistics.

Columbus’ interstate system can reach half the country’s population in only a day’s drive and several infrastructure improvements have been made or are in the works, including enhancements at Rickenbacker Intermodal and the Heartland Corridor that connects Columbus to the Port of Virginia in Norfolk, Virginia. Add to this the fact that logistics-related businesses account for 14 percent of private sector employment in Columbus, and you have a market that would appear ripe for industrial transactions.

Current leasing efforts are focused mainly in areas surrounding improvements and will continue to be the focus of most leasing activity for the foreseeable future due to the large backlog of available space — space that could literally take years to fill. Once developers get the nerve to kick off speculative buildings, Rickenbacker will once again lead the way. Developers are sitting on more than 2,000 acres of developed land. In an effort to be more attractive to potential buyers, communities are offering 100 percent real estate tax abatements for up to 15 years, helping to reduce operating expenses by half when compared to similar non-abated buildings.

While waiting for the area’s logistics role to be fully recognized, creativity is still key in attracting companies looking for industrial space. As an example, one real estate investment trust is getting attention for promoting rents as low as $1 per square foot for its newer Class A buildings. No new speculative development has occurred for quite some time; still, there are several sizable build-to-suit projects under way. Most of this construction is happening with companies doing business with Limited Brands, which is headquartered in Columbus. Working with the Village of New Albany, the company has done an effective job of attracting business to the region.

While there are reasons for optimism, the Columbus market still faces a vacancy rate of 10.5 percent for properties 10,000 square feet or larger. For modern bulk properties of 100,000 square feet or larger, 28 feet clear or taller, or newer than 10 years old, the vacancy rate is 18.21 percent. Even though vacancy rates declined in 2010, statistics in the first quarter of 2011 show rates picked up, not providing enough evidence that a recovery has firmly taken root.

— Rick Trott is senior vice president with Cassidy Turley in Columbus, Ohio.


©2011 France Publications, Inc. Duplication or reproduction of this article not permitted without authorization from France Publications, Inc. For information on reprints of this article contact Barbara Sherer at (630) 554-6054.




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