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Industrial Real Estate Developments

First Industrial looks to develop more than 2 million square feet of warehouse space near Orlando airport

When First Industrial snagged the property, it paid an amount that was four times higher than its previous closing price two years earlier.

A major player in the industrial development game that has recently led up a construction project in Kissimmee is now looking to make a huge splash in the city of Orlando with plans to deliver more than two million square feet of warehouse space.

Chicago-based First Industrial Realty Trust purchased 243 acres of land with frontage along State Road 417 just northeast of the Orlando International Airport in November of 2021 for $60 million — or $246,913 per acre.

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The company recently submitted plans to the city for a project called First 417 Logistics Park with two spec warehouses in its initial phase. The smallest totals 285,600 square feet while the largest spans 541,500 square feet.

The two warehouse buildings will be flanked by 554 parking spaces, according to site plans according to plans submitted to the St. John’s Water Management District by engineering firm Kimley-Horn.

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But the company intends to mass-grade more of the site during the first phase to allow for future build-to-suit warehouse development.

Chris Willson, the company’s executive director, told GrowthSpotter that the plan is to eventually build out 2.8 million square feet of industrial space on the site.

“Suffice it to say, the site works really well for bigger buildings between 800,000 and a million square feet,” he said. “That’s one reason we liked this site to begin with, it can accommodate the larger buildings. We have a number of different buildings that we are contemplating, some are rear-loaded, some are cross-dock and some are the ‘Big Bombers,’ as we call them with a million square feet.”

With control of 68.9 million square feet of warehouse space across 443 properties, the publicly-traded company is among the most prolific industrial developers in the nation. But it only recently entered the Central Florida market with a 333,345-square-foot First Loop Logistics Park now leasing in Kissimmee and has yet to build in the city of Orlando.

Willson said the company has been on the lookout for the right property in Orlando for five years. They like what they found in the 243-acre swath of land just north of where S.R. 417 intersects with S.R. 528.

“It is incredibly visible along 417, there’s a couple of thousand linear feet of direct freeway frontage,” he said. “Access to 417 provides access to all parts of Orlando. What warehousers and distributors are looking for — the most important thing to them — is labor. And so being near Orlando and having access to that amount of labor is critical to the end users. The labor market in Orlando is a key component to what we look for.”

This land near the Orlando airport was previously owned by another one of the nation’s largest industrial developers, Dalfen Industrial.

The Dallas-based company bought it in Dec. of 2019 for $15 million. When First Industrial snagged it a little less than two years later, the price had quadrupled.

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When First Industrial snagged the property, it paid an amount that was four times higher than its previous closing price two years earlier.

According to an Oct 13. market report by JLL, 8.6. million square feet worth of warehouse space across 36 buildings was under construction in the Greater Orlando area during this year’s third quarter. The Lake County and North Orange submarkets each have over 2.5 million s.f. under construction. The southeast Orange submarket has 1.7 million s.f. under construction.

“Demand for space remains high,” the JLL report says. “Pending move-ins for the end of this year, and into early next, paired with new construction, point to sustained interest in the market.”

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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