North American industrial markets positioned to reap benefits of economic rebound as industrial/retail product is redefined

May 13, 2014, 09:00 ET from Avison Young Commercial Real Estate (BC)

Avison Young releases inaugural Spring 2014 Canada, U.S. Industrial Market Report

TORONTO, May 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - Canada's industrial markets continue to be driven by regional forces influenced by their geographic locations. The industrial landscape offers a mix of traditional manufacturing-based product, along with an increasing transition to distribution and logistics uses. Meanwhile, in the U.S., many markets reported historic performance in market fundamentals such as vacancy rates, new construction and pricing as the economy recovers and demand for space rebounds.

These are some of the key trends noted in Avison Young's inaugural Spring 2014 Canada, U.S. Industrial Market Report, released today.

The report covers the industrial markets in 35 Canadian and U.S. metropolitan regions: Calgary, Edmonton, Guelph (Southwestern Ontario), Lethbridge, Mississauga, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Atlanta, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Long Island, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Orange County, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Reno, San Diego County, San Francisco, San Mateo, South Florida, Tampa and Washington, DC.

"As part of our ongoing commitment to providing best-in-class market intelligence, we are pleased to introduce our new industrial market report publication capturing insights from 35 markets across Canada and the U.S.," comments Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young. 

He continues: "This report demonstrates that industrial/retail product is being redefined in Canada, the U.S. and globally as the Internet plays an increasing role in the sale of consumer goods. The impact of this evolving product on the industrial real estate market will become even more positive as the American economic recovery continues. Against a backdrop of improving economic conditions in the U.S. and somewhat moderating economic performance in Canada lately, the industrial sector on both sides of the border can be characterized as showing steady growth. Many of the U.S. markets are rebounding from market troughs, making their progress seem all the more pronounced, while in Canada, relative stability during the Great Recession means that gains are more subtle, resulting in the wide but narrowing gap in vacancy rates between the two countries."

"There is quite a bit of momentum building, particularly in the U.S. markets, as measured by the substantial increase in new development – both build-to-suit and speculative – compared with one year ago. This is a sign of the confidence felt by all stakeholders, including those developing the product, brokers conducting lease transactions, and tenants occupying the space," concludes Rose.

The report shows that, of the 35 industrial markets tracked by Avison Young across North America, 26 markets saw vacancy rates tighten to varying degrees during the 12-month period to the end of the first quarter of 2014, with a greater number of U.S. markets seeing an improvement than Canadian markets. Year-over-year, vacancy rates fell in 23 of 24 U.S. markets surveyed, compared with only three of 11 Canadian markets.

The Canadian industrial market collectively reported a vacancy rate of 4.6% (+20 basis points (bps) year-over-year) in the first quarter of 2014, compared with 8.1% (-100 bps) in the U.S.

Despite decreasing vacancy levels recorded in U.S. markets, a distinct, though narrowing, gap persists between the two countries, currently at 350 bps, down from 470 bps 12 months earlier.

"While dynamics vary from market to market, the industrial landscape is continually morphing beyond its traditional manufacturing role," says Bill Argeropoulos, Vice-President and Director of Research (Canada) for Avison Young.

"The biggest transformation taking place at the moment is the increasing prevalence of the retail sector making use of industrial space as a means of developing and rolling out e-commerce and omni-channel strategies. These uses are driving the development of larger facilities with ever-higher clear-ceiling heights that give greater efficiency for the handling of goods without costly additional footprints. In a sense, this trend parallels the current movement in the office marketplace as companies look for ways to extract greater value by operating more densely in smaller spaces. The other effect of this trend is the increasing obsolescence of older industrial product – particularly in traditional manufacturing locales. In some cases, obsolete properties are being razed or repurposed," he says.

Approaching an inventory of 2 billion square feet (bsf), Canada's industrial market continues to operate under relatively healthy fundamentals. Although the various major markets are driven by different industries, many are experiencing a gradual rebound in manufacturing after losing ground through the 2000s, and the outlook for the manufacturing sector is promising. Increasing demand from the U.S. and a weaker Canadian dollar are good news for the export sector, while the growth in global demand for energy continues to support resource-based markets in Western Canada, which displayed slightly lower vacancy levels versus the transitioning, but traditionally manufacturing-focused, markets in the East.

Notable report highlights include:

  • Single-digit vacancy rates persist across the country, with eight of the 11 markets recording rates below the national average.

  • Vacancy among Canada's Western markets has increased 70 bps during the past year to 4%, compared with a decrease of 40 bps by Eastern markets, currently at 4.4%.

  • The East-West vacancy spread has narrowed to 40 bps from 150 bps one year ago.

  • Vacancy is lowest in Ottawa (2.8%) and highest in Guelph (Southwestern Ontario) (6.8%).

  • Calgary registered the greatest swing in vacancy, up 190 bps to 5.3%.

  • Development is slightly ahead (+2%) of the 2013 pace, with almost 9 million square feet (msf) under construction (34% preleased) – equating to less than 1% of the existing inventory.

  • Toronto, the nation's largest and North America's second largest industrial market (856 msf), is also the biggest development market with 2.6 msf underway (29% of the national total), followed closely by Vancouver (2.2 msf, 25%).

  • Asking net rents increased in eight of the 11 markets, lifting the national average to $7.90 per square foot (psf).

  • Rents are highest in the West, led by Regina ($12 psf), Calgary ($10.86 psf) and Edmonton ($10.13 psf).

Argeropoulos adds: "Although we have seen a steady stream of new development – and an increase in speculative development in the hopes of landing large U.S. retailers – the amount of space under construction only amounts to one-half of 1% of the existing Canadian inventory and is no more than 1.3% of existing stock in any one market. Given the relatively short development cycle for industrial product, if demand doesn't meet expectations, projects can easily be 'turned off and on' if necessary, mitigating the risk for developers."

Avison Young's U.S. industrial markets have strengthened significantly since the first quarter of 2013 due to ongoing improvement in such fundamentals as vacancy, absorption and pricing with many cities reporting historic market indicators. Nationwide, there has been an uptick in demand for class A and big-box space. As well, the overall market has improved to such an extent that companies seeking to reshore their operations may find options limited in prime locations.

Ports capable of handling New Panamax-class vessels are complete, or underway, in several markets, including: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Oakland (included as part of the San Francisco market coverage), Houston, New York/New Jersey and Miami. Once upgrades are complete, those ports will be able to accommodate larger vessels expected as a result of the Panama Canal expansion, which is slated to be complete in 2015. For the first time, East Coast and U.S. Gulf Coast ports will be able to receive container ships directly from Asia – and should be well-positioned for further expansion.

Warehouse product comprises the bulk of the 7.6 bsf covered in Avison Young's U.S. industrial markets. Year-over-year vacancy has declined 100 bps to 8.1% from 9.1%, and all markets, except Houston, registered vacancy decreases. While Houston's vacancy rate rose slightly due to the delivery of new inventory, the city still ranked among the lowest (4.9%). Other top-performing markets included Denver, Long Island, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco and San Mateo, with each posting vacancy rates of 5% or lower.

"Rising costs overseas are bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., and reshoring will be an important trend this year as companies move to shorten the supply chain and control costs. Necessary speculative development will spread to more cities as the overall market continues to improve in order to keep pace with increased demand from retailers and others for modern industrial product," states Earl Webb, Avison Young's President, U.S. Operations.

Webb continues: "Markets well-positioned for further growth include energy-driven markets, such as Houston, as well as those with ports that have been made capable of handling the larger New Panamax-class vessels expected as a result of the Panama Canal expansion. In those markets, we anticipate an uptick in investment activity and the growth of transport companies."

Notable report highlights include:

  • Chicago, North America's largest industrial market (1.03 bsf), has vacancy of 8.3% (-50 bps) and 14 buildings totaling 4.6 msf under construction.

  • While a handful of markets have persistent double-digit vacancy, all showed improvement year-over-year.

  • Vacancy improved the most in Reno (8.7%, -440 bps), Denver (5%, -220 bps) and Columbus, Ohio (6.6%, -200 bps).

  • 61 msf was under construction across the country, compared with 36 msf one year earlier (+69%).

  • Dallas has the most development (15.7 msf) underway.

  • Preleasing in projects under construction mirrors levels found in Canada at 34%.

  • Other cities with notable levels of product in the construction pipeline include Philadelphia (8.1 msf) and Houston (6.8 msf).

  • Except for Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit, rental rates in Avison Young's markets rose year-over-year with asking net rents averaging $6.30 psf, up from $5.96 psf.

  • San Francisco boasted the highest average rent ($12.96 psf) and lowest vacancy (3.1%).

  • Other well-above-average rental markets included San Diego County ($10.32 psf), San Mateo ($10.08 psf) and Washington, DC ($9.38 psf).

Webb concludes: "U.S. industrial properties gained favor with investors in 2013, and portfolio trades contributed to the sector's rising sales volume. With the significant improvement in market fundamentals in the past year, we can anticipate meaningful rent growth in a handful of markets, making this property sector an attractive investment again in 2014."

Please turn to the following pages of the report for highlights in the local markets. For further info/comment, please contact the Avison Young representatives listed below. Thank you.

p. 3 Canada & U.S.: 
Bill Argeropoulos, VP & Director of Research (Canada), 416.673.4029 or cell: 416.906.3072
Margaret Donkerbrook, VP, U.S. Research, 202.644.8677

p. 7 Calgary:
Todd Throndson, Principal, 403.232.4343

p. 7 Edmonton:
John Ross, Managing Director, 780.429.7564

p. 8 Guelph (SW Ontario) 
Ray Robinson, Managing Director, 226.366.9030

p. 8 Lethbridge:
Doug Mereska, Managing Director, 403.330.3338

p. 9 Montreal:
Laurent Benarrous, Principal, 514.905.5441

p. 9 Ottawa:
Rob Quinn, Principal, 613.567.6755
Michael Church, Principal, 613.567.6634

p. 10 Regina:
Richard Jankowski, Managing Director, 306.359.9799

p. 10 Toronto:
Mark Fieder, Principal, 416.673.4051

p. 11 Toronto West/Mississauga:
Martin Dockrill, Principal, 905.283.2333

p. 11 Vancouver
Michael Keenan, Principal, 604.647.5081

p. 12 Winnipeg:
Wes Schollenberg, Managing Director, 204.947.2886

p. 12 Atlanta:
Steve Dils, Principal, 404.865.3663

p. 13 Boston:
Rick Kimball, Principal, 617.758.8271

p. 13 Charleston, SC:
Jeremy Willits, Managing Director, 843.725.7200

p. 14 Chicago:
Danny Nikitas Principal, 312.940.8794

p. 14 Columbus, OH:
Scott Pickett, Principal, 614.264.4400

p. 15 Dallas:
Greg Langston, Principal, 214.269.3115

p. 15 Denver:
Alec Wynne, Principal, 720.508.8112

p. 16 Detroit:
Jim Becker, Principal, 313.510.2825

p. 16 Houston:
Rand Stephens, Principal, 713.993.7810

p. 17 Las Vegas:
Joseph Kupiec, Principal, 702.472.7978

p. 17 Long Island:
Ted Stratigos, Principal, 516.962.5399

p. 18 Los Angeles:  
Christopher Cooper, Principal, 213.935.7435                           

p. 18 New Jersey:
Jeff Heller, Principal, 973.753.1100

p. 19 Orange County:
Christopher Cooper, Principal, 213.935.7435                           

p. 19 Philadelphia:
David Fahey, Principal, 610.276.1081                            

p. 20 Pittsburgh:
George (Duke) Kingsley, Principal, 412.944.2131

p. 20 Raleigh-Durham:
John Linderman, Principal, 919.420.1559

p. 21 Reno:
John Pinjuv, Managing Director, (775) 332-7300

p. 21 San Diego County:
Christopher Cooper, Principal, 213.935.7435                           

p. 22 San Francisco:
Nick Slonek, Principal, 415.322.5051

P.22 San Mateo
Randy Keller, Principal, 650.425.6425

p. 23 South Florida:
Pike Rowley, Principal, 954.938.1807

p. 23 Tampa:
Ken Lane, Principal, 813.444.0623

p. 24 Washington, DC:
Keith Lipton, Principal, 202.644.8683

Avison Young is the world's fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 1,500 real estate professionals in 57 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties.

• Click here to view Avison Young's inaugural Spring 2014 Canada, U.S. Industrial Market Report:

For further information/comment/photos:

Sherry Quan, Principal, National Director of Communications & Media Relations, Avison Young:
604.647.5098; cell: 604.726.0959

Bill Argeropoulos, Vice-President and Director of Research (Canada), Avison Young: 
416.673.4029; cell 416.906.3072

Margaret Donkerbrook, Vice-President, U.S. Research, Avison Young: 202.644.8677

Mark Rose, Chair and CEO, Avison Young: 416.673.4028

Earl Webb, President, U.S. Operations, Avison Young: 312.957.7610

Avison Young was a winner of Canada's Best Managed Companies program in 2011 and 2012 and requalified in 2013 to maintain its status as a Best Managed company.

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