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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 7 months ago

Even with slight dent, industrial leader continues rolling

Lakeland has added 10 million square feet of industrial space since 2016.

By one metric, Lakeland’s industrial space glory days seem to be numbered: Slowing industrial starts, according to a report form real estate analytics firm CoStar, have dropped the trailing 12-month net delivery of total projects to under 1.2 million square feet. That’s the lowest in over three years, the report adds.

Of course, that metric is all relative. In several other ways, good times in Lakeland’s industrial market are rolling.

For one, maintaining 5 million square feet of new industrial supply every six months —like it did from 2016-2018 — was always something bound to eventually slow down. As it is, Lakeland has celebrated multiple industrial groundbreakings in recent years, CoStar points out. The list includes large projects from Amazon, Walmart and Medline. And since 2016, some 10 million square feet has been added in the Lakeland market area, or about 15% of the MSA's existing inventory, the report shows.

More news to counter any potential slowdown: Overall leasing activity has not fallen off, CoStar found. That “indicates that the market still has pent-up industrial demand,” the report states, “which could quickly resume the erosion of overall vacancies.” New tenants in speculative spaces include distribution centers for Nestle, Best Buy, PepsiCo and IKEA, among other big-name brands.

Also, Houston-based Conn’s HomePlus, a chain of appliance, electronics, furniture and mattress stores, recently announced plans to open a new distribution center in Lakeland by August 2020. The facility will be the company’s first Florida project, expanding its presence to 15 states.

Planned at 413,000 square feet, the facility will lead to 50 full-time jobs in Lakeland, the company says in a statement, in addition to another 720 jobs stateside as the retailer opens showrooms. The first Florida showroom is slated to open September 2020. "We believe Florida can support over 40 Conn's HomePlus locations, representing a significant expansion to our store base,” Conn's HomePlus Chairman and CEO Norm Miller says in the statement.

Dallas-based Xebec Realty is developing the Conn’s HomePlus distribution center. Xebec co-founder and CEO Randy Kendrick adds in the release that "from a logistics standpoint, Lakeland is an excellent market to select for the first Conn's HomePlus distribution center in Florida.”



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