By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
The bulk distribution warehousing corridor from Wentzville to Edwardsville has experienced a decade of record-setting construction and leasing, according to Matt Hrubes, vice president of leasing and development at Duke Realty.
Hrubes’ message reached nearly 1,000 commercial real estate brokers and regional leaders in attendance Feb. 18 at the 36th annual Metro Market Forecast, hosted by the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors St. Louis Chapter.
“In the past 10 years, more than 24 million square feet has been built at a $1 billion value,” Hrubes said, citing major investment in Edwardsville’s Gateway Commerce Center and Lakeview Commerce Center, Fenton Logistics Park, St. Peters’ Premier 370 Business Park, Hazelwood’s Aviator Business Park, Hazelwood Logistic Center and elsewhere. “And from 2010-2019, $2.58 billion in St. Louis industrial investment came from non-St. Louis-based investors,” he added.
St. Louis’ top five industrial building owners in 2010 were Duke Realty, MEPT, Prologis, First Industrial Realty and JBM. Ten years later, the Top 5 are Duke Realty, Exeter Property Group, NorthPoint Development, Panattoni and JPMorgan Chase.
In 2010, the top industrial occupiers in St. Louis were OHL, Unilever, P&G, Centric Group and Spectrum Brands. Ten years hence in 2020, they are World Wide Technology, Amazon, GEODIS, P&G, General Motors and Spectrum Brands.
Hrubes pointed to Gateway Commerce Center as a classic example of this growth. “In 10 years, Gateway Commerce Center construction nearly doubled from 15 buildings to 26,” said Hrubes. “It’s nearly built out with only 200 acres (out of 2,300) left.”
Regarding economic health, Hrubes said, St. Louis’ unemployment stats have vastly improved over the past decade. In January 2010, he noted, St. Louis had a 10.4 percent unemployment rate. In December 2019, that rate was only 3.2 percent.
Following Tuesday’s morning forecast event, BARBERMURPHY Principal Steve Zuber, SIOR St. Louis vice president, said the Illinois portion of the St. Louis MSA is uniquely positioned to take advantage of today’s real estate adage, “labor, labor, labor” – a catch phrase that has overtaken the industry’s long-used “location, location, location” expression.
“For years, Illinois’ bordering states – Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin – have been outperforming Illinois with lower unemployment rates,” said Zuber. “Ours has been somewhat higher than most. That’s actually a good thing now, though…because now in Illinois, we have the ready workforce to fill these positions while our neighboring states are maxed out.”