Continuing a wave of speculative industrial construction in the Interstate 4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando, USAA Real Estate Co. is building a 275,226-square-foot distribution center in Lakeland.
The estimated $20 million building, in the Bridgewater Commerce Center, is expected to be completed in October.
The project is being developed by Seefried Industrial Properties and marketed for lease by Canadian brokerage firm Avison Young's Tampa office. Seefried and USAA also teamed up to develop Amazon's 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Ruskin.
Clay Witherspoon, an Avison Young principal and the firm's managing director in Tampa, says the USAA project is being spurred on by low vacancies and tenant demands for modern amenities and a more efficient design. Industrial vacancy in Lakeland at year-end 2015 was 4.55%, according to Avison Young statistics.
“This is being developed in an established park that's been very successful,” Witherspoon says. “We think the established presence and the park's frontage along I-4 will help immensely. The access it enjoys is exceptional, and we believe the traffic to the interstate is better than other competing sites.”
At least five other developers along the Interstate 4 corridor in Plant City and Lakeland have expressed an interest in building speculative industrial space in response to tenant demand and shrinking vacancies in the area.
The new USAA building will feature a 36-foot clear height, 410-foot depth for greater storage capabilities and cross or dock loading -- all of which have been in high demand among logistics companies in recent years. Many older distribution centers, for instance, have only 28-foot clear ceiling heights. Higher ceiling heights allow distributors to use modern and more powerful forklifts to store a greater volume of goods on site.
“The national trends in the industry are all aimed at gaining more efficiency through higher clear heights, and this building will provide that as well,” Witherspoon says.
USAA, the U.S. Automotive Association, has more than 10 million members and controls a real estate portfolio valued in excess of $12 billion, according to its website.
Bridgewater, a six-building business park with more than 1.5 million square feet, is occupied by JC Penney; Havertys; HD Supply; and others.