The Post-Panamax Era Leads to Bigger Industrial Buildings In South Carolina

Key Takeaways

  • New industrial buildings are larger than ever.
  • The first post-Panamax ship travelled through the Panama Canal Expansion.
  • Road improvements in the Charleston industrial market will unlock new industrial land sites.

Larger Industrial Buildings to Come

Increased activity in the South Carolina market from larger tenants, the construction of a larger port, the expansion of the Panama Canal and the introduction of post-Panamax ships to the Port of Charleston have led to larger industrial buildings. Build-to-suit development is prominent, with seven new deliveries in the third quarter, including the one million-square-foot expansion for First Quality Tissue in Anderson County; the 251,100-square-foot facility for Phillips Pet Food and the 150,000-square-foot facility for Sterling Contract Packaging in Spartanburg County; Magna International’s 165,000-square-foot facility in Greenville County; and the 118,000-square-foot expansion for Sportsman Boats in Dorchester County. Delivery of these large build-to-suit buildings at full occupancy is the primary driver of the large absorption in the market and is impacting the size of speculative development.

Over the last five years, 35 buildings over 250,000 square feet have delivered, with 19 of those since 2015. In 2007, most speculative construction was between 100,000 and 350,000 square feet. Today, developers are constructing buildings between 150,000 and 400,000 square feet but with the opportunity to expand the building by  two or three times its size. The Keith Corporation’s building at Charleston Trade Center is a speculative building currently under construction that will be 307,350 square feet, expandable to 923,000 square feet, and a planned building in Velocity Park in Greer will be 600,000 square feet, expandable to 1 million square feet. Additionally, construction will begin soon on a new speculative building at OMNI Industrial Campus. The building will be 587,720 square feet, much larger than the standard speculative building in the South Carolina market.

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