COLUMBIA — With new buildings in short supply, Columbia Metropolitan Airport is seeking to capitalize on demand to land its first industrial park tenant.
Colliers International commercial real estate firm, on behalf of the airport, launched marketing efforts yesterday for 803 Industrial Park. The first building, with 204,120 square feet of space, is being constructed on a speculative basis with no set occupant in mind.
The Columbia airport announced earlier this year its intention to target e-commerce entities as it develops 500 acres of surrounding property.
Online retail has risen drastically amid the international coronavirus pandemic. With $209.5 million in sales during the third quarter, online purchases made up 14.3 percent of all United States retail purchases. That's a 36.7 percent increase over the same period in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Columbia Metropolitan is already home to a major UPS hub and FedEx shipping operations, as well as sitting 15 minutes from an Amazon fulfillment center. It hopes to build on that existing industry presence to increase the cargo shipping business that takes to the skies around the Capital City.
Cargo shipped through Columbia Metropolitan Airport rose sharply in 2019 to 76,194 tons, an 11 percent increase over 2018. As of October, the airport has handled 60,047 tons of cargo this year with two of its largest cargo operators showing growth over last year.
By comparison, Charleston International Airport has handled 28,367 tons as of September, according to its operations report.
Greenville’s airport handled 45,483 tons as of September. In late 2019, the airport opened a new $33 million, 110,000-square-foot air cargo facility to increase its freight capacity.
Realtors think the industrial space near the airport will go quickly.
"There is no Class A space available," Colliers Vice President Dave Matthews said. "None of it’s in the market."
Class A industrial buildings come with high ceilings and are constructed with high-end materials. The most recent deal to be done was back in September, when TreeHouse Foods, a pasta company, gobbled up the last 150,000 square feet available at nearby Lexington County Industrial Park.
"That took less than a month, warp speed for a deal that size," Matthews said.
In addition to 803 Industrial Park, a number of other industrial projects are expected to come online in 2021.
Magnus Development Partners, which is also constructing buildings at the airport's industrial park, recently broke ground on its sixth speculative building in Lexington County Industrial Park, which includes a Home Depot distribution center and many other air cargo-reliant tenants.
There is also Red Rock Development's Sandy Run Industrial Park and Lexington County is nearing completion of a 104,000-square-foot speculative building in its Saxe Gotha Industrial Park, near Nephron Pharmaceuticals and the Amazon distribution center.
"I'm bullish; As long as Class A product is going vertical, it's going to get absorbed," Matthews said.
According to Matthews, what's unique about the airport's industrial park is it's proximity to air and a nearly straight shot to Interstate 26 and the Port of Charleston.
"Planes, trains, ships and autos is how we're marketing and branding this site," he said.