Polk County is on the verge of landing another 2.24 million square feet of new distribution warehouse space, but it isn't coming to the U.S. 27 corridor.
As that distribution hub reaches full buildout, industry leaders have turned their sights west on the Interstate 4 corridor to Auburndale. This week the Auburndale City Council approved an Industrial Planned Unit Development zoning and binding site plan for a 1 million-square-foot facility by Prologis.
The developer made numerous revisions to alleviate concerns from surrounding neighborhoods, according to The Lakeland Ledger. The final vote is scheduled later this month.
While the tenant has not been identified, the site plan shows more than 1,100 employee parking spaces, which is a strong indicator it will be some type of e-commerce fulfillment center. The plan also sets aside an 8.5-acre outparcel to be developed for commercial and retail uses.
Attorney Allison Turnbull of Gunster's Orlando office helped lead Prologis through its planning review in Auburndale.
The new development follows the completion and $59.6 million sale in March of the first warehouse in CenterState Logistics Center on S.R. 33 in the city of Lakeland. The site is on the north side of I-4, near Florida Polytechnic University.
Brennan Investment Group developed that 605,412-square-foot distribution center on spec in 2017 and signed Quaker Sales and Distribution, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, to a 10-year lease.
Bob Krueger, Southeast managing principal for Brennan, said the firm has already started construction on the business park's second phase.
"We are building the 440,000-square-foot building on spec," Krueger told GrowthSpotter. "Right now we're finishing up pad and hope to start vertical construction in June. We're looking for a completion date some time by the end of the year."
That 112-acre site is entitled for another 120,000 square feet in Phase 1, but Krueger said Brennan is reserving that space for future expansion of PepsiCo, which has right of first refusal for five years.
"This market is still very robust. We see users coming in all the time. The S.R. 27 site attracts a few more people from Orlando," he said. "We're just down the road a little bit, and Lakeland was proactive and wanted to have those type of uses, and they wanted to do business."
Polk County real estate developer Randy Knapp has applied for a mass grading permit for the 56-acre Lakeland Drag Strip property on S.R. 33 next door to CenterState, to accommodate up to 800,000 square feet of distribution warehouse space.
Scott Brown, senior vice president for Majestic Realty Co., said Auburndale hits the sweet spot at the halfway point between Orlando and Tampa. And the Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA grew 2.9 percent from 2016 to 2017, making it the fastest growing metro area in the nation, according to Bloomberg.
"Obviously, the number one thing it has going for it is available land," Brown said. "Growth is headed that way. We've looked a lot in that area. If we could find a site along I-4 in that area, we'd be a buyer for sure."
Majestic, which developed the twin Walmart fulfillment centers on U.S. 27, is in permitting for another 450,000 square feet at that site.