Sunday, April 14, 2013

LA Times: The Industrial Boom in the Inland Empire

by Calculated Risk on 4/14/2013 10:43:00 AM

From Roger Vincent at the LA Times: In the Inland Empire, an industrial real estate boom

Nestled on the windy plains at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains, once austere stretches of agricultural land have morphed into the country's most desirable industrial real estate market, and it is growing faster than any other industrial region in the U.S.
The clamor for these big buildings is so intense in San Bernardino and Riverside counties that developers are erecting more than 16 million square feet of warehouses on speculation, meaning they are gambling that buyers or renters will rush forward to claim the buildings by the time they are complete.
Although the Inland Empire was hard hit by the recession and earned a reputation for mortgage foreclosures, evictions and high unemployment rates during the downturn, the industrial property business has remained a bright spot. And it is now picking up speed.

Southern California, with its enormous population and teeming seaports, has long been a vital hub for major retailers and manufacturers ... But with Los Angeles and Orange counties essentially full, the Inland Empire with its wide-open spaces is now where the big new buildings are flying up.

Los Angeles County's industrial vacancy is a mere 2.5%, the lowest in the country, said Kurt Strasmann of brokerage CBRE Group Inc., and some of the priciest industrial property in the U.S. is around Los Angeles International Airport. Orange County is the second-tightest market in the U.S., with 3.5% vacancy.

The two counties and the Inland Empire have a combined total of more than 1.65 billion square feet of industrial property, which is twice as big as the next largest market, Chicago.
Back in 2005 and 2006, I wrote frequently about the coming residential bust in the Inland Empire. But this industrial (distribution) boom makes more sense and is directly related to the increase in trade with Asia.