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One the most significant changes in the industrial real estate sector is the increase in overall size and clear heights of industrial buildings across the US. That is according to Pat Ward, founder of MetroGroup Realty Finance. “Today, large industrial distribution and warehouse users are seeking substantially larger buildings than those that existed 15 years ago.” exclusively spoke with Ward on how the sector has evolved in terms of space use and demand. He notes that “We are commonly seeing industrial buildings that are one million square feet or larger. Fifteen years ago, large buildings may have had a 24-foot clear height, whereas today, it is very common for buildings to have 36-foot clear height. The increased clear heights allow warehouse users to look at their space in terms of cubic feet rather than merely square feet.” 

In addition, he says, the rise of the e-commerce market has created an environment where goods remain in warehouse buildings for much shorter periods of time—turnover time is rapidly decreasing. “These larger facilities have created an environment where the user is in the space business as opposed to the people business.”

He explains that “Material handling innovations have made dramatic strides in industrial real estate. Robotics are commonly used for delivering goods within distribution centers. Conveyor systems are becoming more and more sophisticated. With the advent of ESFR fire sprinkler systems, which deliver three to four times more water, racking systems have increased in size and sophistication. In addition, better designed and functioning forklifts allow aisles to be narrower.”