Gwinnett Complex Is Biggest Flex Industrial Sale In Years
A California investor has paid the highest price in years for an Atlanta flex industrial park.
CIP Real Estate paid $126.6M, or $105/SF, for Gwinnett Commons, a 13-building, 1.2M SF light industrial complex off Interstate 85 and Shackleford Road, just south of Pleasant Hill Road. It has eclipsed the bulk prices paid for light industrial and flex industrial properties in Atlanta for the past five years, which was previously topped by AVG Partners’ $93M 2018 purchase of Ciba Vision's facility at 11440 Johns Creek Parkway, according to Transwestern.
“Industrial really is the sweetheart sector right now,” Bull Realty founder Michael Bull said. “The need for industrial locations is just so strong, investors are really just clamoring to invest in these low-interest rate [environments].”
Flex industrial is a subset of real estate where buildings are a mix of industrial space, such as warehouses and even light manufacturing facilities, coupled with office buildings.
The seller, a joint venture between Westmount Realty Capital and Quilvest Capital Partners, purchased Gwinnett Commons for $83.2M in 2015. At the time, the 115-acre complex was suffering from low occupancy of 78.9% on the industrial portion, according to Westmount's website. The firm has since turned those fortunes around. At the time of the sale, Gwinnett Commons was 97% leased.
“We believe that our focused approach will turn this project around and bring leasing rates up to levels they should be realizing,” Westmount CEO Clifford Booth told Commercial Property Executive in 2016.
Cushman & Wakefield Vice Chairman Stewart Calhoun and Senior Director Casey Masters brokered the sale for the joint venture. Officials with Cushman & Wakefield and with CIP did not return calls seeking comment as of press time.
Industrial real estate has defied much of the negative economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, especially as e-commerce goes on a leasing tear to match demand by consumers spending much more of their dollars shopping online. In the first half of 2020, e-commerce companies leased more than 56M SF of warehouse space across the U.S., according to JLL, compared to the 9M SF they leased in all of 2019.
Despite the pandemic slowing sales transaction activity across all product types, Bull said investors will probably continue to push prices for industrial upward this year, a comment echoed in a recent Colliers International report.
“Despite investment activity grinding to a halt, bulk industrial product in Atlanta is highly desirable," Colliers officials said in the report.