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Big-Box Industrial Broke Records In 2016: Here’s How The 6 Major U.S. Markets Fared

    Big-box development and leasing soared in 2016, marking the strongest year ever for the sector, Colliers International reports. That is in spite of 2016’s volatile geopolitical environment, which included the unexpected Brexit vote and President Donald Trump’s upset victory.

    Demand for big-box industrial space — which consists of buildings 300K SF and larger that are primarily used for distribution — continued to outpace supply as e-commerce fueled massive absorption, particularly in North American markets. Nationally, 87.4M SF was developed last year, while 104.8M SF was leased.

    Colliers’ Logistics & Transportation Solutions Group noted the enactment of policies pushed by the Trump administration could have a mixed impact on the market. Trump’s fiscal stimulus measures, including plans to cut corporate taxes, deregulate banks and boost infrastructure spending, could benefit the sector. However, any major shift in trade agreements could negatively impact industrial demand.

    Rising development on the horizon may moderately slow rent growth. Below is a closer look at activity within the six major distribution markets in the U.S. as of Q4 2016, according to Colliers International’s Big-Box Market Report

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    Atlanta, Georgia

    Number of Buildings: 200

    Rental Rates: $3.15/SF

    Vacancy Rates: 14.2%

    Net Absorption: 9.8M SF

    A record level of construction hit Atlanta last year: 27 new big-box buildings totaling 17M SF. But the market’s fundamentals remained strong, with 10M SF of occupancy gains and cap rates dropping to 5.9% by the end of the year. Atlanta did experience an uptick in vacancy rates last year, but Colliers expects that rise will be temporary as users set to occupy more than 4M SF of new supply in 2017. 

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    The Chicago skyline lighted up for the holidays.

    Number of Buildings: 300

    Rental Rates: $4.43/SF

    Vacancy Rates: 8.5%

    Net Absorption: 12.6M SF

    Amazon is the driving force in Chicago, taking over 30% of the market’s new big-box leases last year. Occupiers are drawn to Chicago’s dense population of 41 million people, with users occupying 13M SF last year as a result. Colliers projects vacancies will remain at record lows this year, driven by strong leasing activity.

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    Number of Buildings: 303

    Rental Rates: $3.51/SF

    Vacancy Rates: 9.4%

    Net Absorption: 13.8M SF

    With more than 300 big boxes in Dallas totaling 165M SF, the market is heralded as a central industrial market. The thriving economy boasts a population of 26 million people and has a strong interest from institutional investors, which have kept cap rates at 6%. Colliers reports Dallas’ pace of development is not likely to slow this year — 14M SF of new supply is underway.  

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    Los Angeles

    Number of Buildings: 684

    Rental Rates: $5.40/SF

    Vacancy Rates: 3.8%

    Net Absorption: 18.2M SF

    One of the largest industrial markets in the U.S., Los Angeles boasts nearly 700 big-box buildings totaling 375M SF. The market’s proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach drives its strong appeal, along with the vast population of 28 million people that live within a 250-mile radius of the heart of the city. Colliers foresees rents remaining stable should demand continue to drive healthy absorption. 

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    New Jersey/Leigh Valley/Eastern Pa.

    Number of Buildings: 300

    Rental Rates: $4.98/SF

    Vacancy Rates: 5.9%

    Net Absorption: 22.7M SF

    Proximity to consumers drove this market last year, resulting in 22M SF of completed construction in 2016 across 33 new buildings. Vacancy rates dropped to 5.9% in 2016, a significant drop from its 9% rate the year prior. Colliers anticipates the markets’ large population — more than 61 million people — will cause it to remain one of the most desired locations in the country. 

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    Toronto, Ontario

    Number of Buildings: 277

    Rental Rates: $6.50/SF

    Vacancy Rates: 4.7%

    Net Absorption: 1.1M SF

    Toronto has seen a wave of new activity from e-commerce and major brick-and-mortar brands including IKEA (which signed a 400K SF lease), Amazon (870K SF) and Costco (600K SF). Cap rates in the Canadian market dropped to 5.3% last year and Colliers estimates e-commerce will continue to offer new opportunities for tenants as millions of square feet are scheduled to come online in 2017.