June 15, 2016 / By Steve Koewler, President - Southeast Business Development

The Ins and Outs of Building Industrial Spec Buildings

Charleston, South Carolina is widely recognized as an American jewel replete with historic charm, cobblestone streets, and lush gardens. It’s also gained recognition as one of the most vibrant, livable cities in the U.S., offering a mild climate, beautiful ocean beaches, and coastal waterways, and access to top-notch universities and companies. No wonder Charleston falls in the top 20 for fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country.  But it’s not just homes and offices that are popping up to meet the needs of the region.

Industrial development and construction is also on the rise, thanks to an automotive and aerospace manufacturing boom in the state. Mercedes, which already has an assembly plant in the area, is expanding with the new construction of a manufacturing facility. In addition, Volvo is constructing its first U.S. plant in Charleston.  Boeing, which began investing in the region less than a decade ago, operates an assembly plant for building 787 Dreamliners in the area. Just last year, CNBC reported on the area’s remarkable growth, noting that Boeing has “… become a magnet for scores of aerospace suppliers.” With such growth, comes opportunity, which is exactly what encouraged one 75-year-old real estate family to build the Atlas Commerce Center on spec, with help from the Miller-Valentine Group which broke ground last fall on the first warehouse building in the multi-phase development. In an interview with the Palmetto Business Daily, Warren Zinn, principal of the Atlas Capital Group said, “The tilt-up building incorporates modern design with functionality, including some features such as 30-foot clear ceilings, large truck aprons, multiple dock doors per bay and high parking ratios.” As an added bonus, tilt-up construction can take what Mother Nature sends its way—including high-wind events like hurricanes that are a threat in coastal areas like the Charleston region.

What are the Top Considerations for Industrial Spec Building?

Before deciding to build industrial space on spec, you need to consider these four issues:

1. What are the market demand drivers? In the case of the Atlas Commerce Center, Atlas Capital Group recognized that manufacturing was on a growth trajectory across the state. In Charleston, the network of aerospace and auto manufacturers and suppliers in the state have increased demand for Class A warehouse space. In addition, the area is ideally situated for ease of transportation. The proximity of the South Carolina Ports to major highway connections is just a start. The South Carolina Ports Authority is experiencing record growth—earning top spot as the fastest growing major U.S. port since 2011 thanks to efficient performance and the deepest water in the South Atlantic. With the deepening and widening of the Panama Canal to support mega ships and the deepwater ports in the Charleston area, manufacturers can move freight and product from the West Coast to the East Coast over water rather than trucking across the country.

In fact, a harbor deepening project is currently underway that will make Charleston the deepest harbor on the entire East Coast.

2. Do you understand all of the needs of your customers? Manufacturers need suppliers that are close to plants; they also need an infrastructure that supports easy shipping, receiving and storage of raw materials as well as finished products. The proximity to major highways and the Port of Charleston makes the Atlas Commerce Center an attractive site.

3. What type of facilities are in demand? With industrial spec builds, you need to understand and meet the modern specifications for hi-tech tenants, the structural demands of manufacturing equipment, with flexible size offerings and competitive rents. Spec buildings also support companies that have need for space quickly—no need to wait because space is readily available. Warren Zinn said, “Atlas Commerce Center aims to serve a niche group of businesses who need space ranging from 7,500 to 67,500 square feet, but who still demand the same high level of quality and features usually reserved for much larger users.”

4. Who can you partner with to build within your time frame and budget? Atlas Capital Group selected Miller-Valentine Group as the project’s design-build contractor because they needed an experienced, trusted partner for design, build and development. Our own experience as owners and managers of similar spec builds—with more than six million square feet of real estate—enables Miller-Valentine Group to apply our knowledge for our clients’ projects to maximize the value of their asset. Having built over 65 million square feet of industrial facilities, including many for Fortune 500 companies, Miller-Valentine Group was the ideal fit for the project.

If you keep these factors in mind before you launch an industrial building project on spec, you’ll be better prepared to make smart decisions that will yield great results—for your investors and for the manufacturing community in your area. Find out more from one of our experts on industrial construction by contacting Steve Koewler, 843.766.3800.



Census: 3 metro areas along SC coast are among the fastest-growing in U.S.
-South Carolina Radio Network

Made in America: The South Carolina solution

Warehouse construction underway at Atlas Commerce Center
-Palmetto Business Daily