Above: Yesterday's "3rd Annual Atlanta Industrial Summit" included, from left to right, moderator Summey Orr of Hartman Simons, Chris Riley of CBRE, Lisa Ward of IDI, Marty McFarland of Weeks Robinson, Michael Ruen of DCT Industrial and Rob Rakusin of Seefried Industrial Properties.
Atlanta’s industrial market may be lagging some of its
competitors, but it is definitely on the road to recovery. That was the overall
tone of panelists participating in Wednesday’s “3rd Annual Atlanta
Industrial Summit,” which was organized by Bisnow Atlanta and sponsored by
Hartman Simons and Catamount Constructors Inc.
Summey Orr, managing partner of Hartman Simons, moderated
the panel discussion, whose participants included Martin McFarland of Weeks
Robinson, Rob Rakusin of Seefried Industrial Properties, Chris Riley of CBRE,
Michael Ruen of DCT Industrial and Lisa Ward of IDI. Below is a sampling of
some of the notable topics touched upon during the comprehensive, one-hour
1) The need for
greater economic diversity.
Ward noted that Atlanta’s industrial market is
not performing as well as Dallas’ in part because the latter metro area’s
economy is more diverse. “Our employment is so tied to housing,” she said,
before adding that she believes Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is doing a good job in
his efforts to broaden the state and Atlanta’s economies.
2) The Port of
The majority of the panelists agreed that a deepening of the Port
of Savannah would have a powerful and beneficial impact on Atlanta’s industrial
market, saying the result would be more containers transported to the metro area
to be broken down and sorted before being passed along the supply chain.
The impact would “be huge,” Ruen said. Riley cited Atlanta
Mayor Kasim Reed’s “fervid” support of the port’s deepening as an indication of
what kind of an effect it would have on Atlanta’s economy.
Rakusin was the only panelist to downplay the importance of
the port’s expansion. “At the end of the day, how do you really figure out
which East Coast city benefits?” he said. “It’s a really overblown topic.”
Orr drew laughs by reminding Rakusin his comments came
during a portion of the discussion dedicated to examining the positive aspects
of Atlanta’s industrial sector.
According to Riley, the Atlanta metro area must do a better job of investing in
its infrastructure if its industrial market is going to reach its full
potential. “For us not to have a second Perimeter is absurd,” he said.
Other panelists stated that metro Atlanta’s traffic woes could
make some industrial tenants reluctant to locate facilities in the area because
of worries about the impact of congestion on their employees’ quality of life.
4) Awaiting the Smaller
Big tenants have returned in force to the Atlanta industrial market,
Ruen said. However, smaller and medium-sized tenants – meaning those who lease
25,000 to 60,000 square feet – by and large remain on the sidelines, he added.
However, the time is approaching when those tenants can no
longer postpone making decisions about their business plans, Ruen added. “They
can’t afford not to make decisions,” he said. “You can’t run the risk of losing
your market share.”
While online sales pose an obvious threat to bricks-and-mortar retail sites,
they present growth opportunities for the industrial sector, the panelists said.
As Orr noted, “All that stuff’s got to be shipped from somewhere.”
“We see a lot of opportunities in e-commerce,” McFarland
According to Ruen, part of the e-commerce-related growth
will come from traditional retailers like Target or Home Depot. “They have to
be competitive in that [online] space if they want to survive,” he said.