When you have the fastest-growing deep-water port in the country, it’s bound to create a domino effect. So it should come as no surprise that Savannah is now the fastest-growing industrial real estate market in the country.
Just ask veteran commercial real estate broker David Sink, a partner at Colliers International-Savannah.
“We’ve definitely been discovered,” he said.
Indeed, at a growth rate of 8.7 percent – based on absorption as a percentage of available inventory – the Savannah market tops No. 2 growth market, Las Vegas, by nearly 3 percentage points.
While Savannah’s industrial market will never be as big as those in major cities – Atlanta, for example, has some 600 million square feet – its 55.5 million square feet of inventory as of the end of 2017 has an overall vacancy rate of just 2.9 percent.
“Savannah has been challenged for the last several years,” Georgia Ports executive director Griff Lynch told his audience at the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference this week.
“We can have all the space in the world on our terminal, but if our customers can’t put their goods anywhere, we’ve got a problem,” he said.
For its part, the GPA has sold some 500 acres of its own property to several developers for port-related facilities. That property, located in the port’s Savannah River International Trade Park, has the potential to add 5 million square feet of warehousing and distribution facilities less than 5 miles from the gates of Garden City Terminal.
“But that’s not the only space that will come on line in the next several years,” Lynch said. “Investors are buying land, much of it with rail access, to develop with our customers in mind.”
One such investor is OmniTRAX Inc., which recently announced that its Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub has been certified a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development, or GRAD, site by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
OmniTRAX is developing the 2,700-acre tract in Effingham County in partnership with the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority.
“We are seeing demand push land acquisitions out to an area within 10 to 15 miles of the port now, whereas before it was clustered within 5 miles,” Sink said this week.
Among the larger tracts currently available are Interstate Centre and Belfast Commerce Park, both in Bryan County, as well as Savannah Economic Development Authority’s Compass Business Park, adjacent to Bloomingdale in West Chatham County.
For the past 10 years, Savannahian Wrenn Blalock’s North Point Industrial, LLC, has been the largest local industrial development company in the Savannah area. In addition to building out nearly 50 percent of the Crossroads Business Center, the company has developed a variety of build-to-suit facilities for such well-known names as Walmart, Michael’s, Oneida and Gulfstream, as well as logistics companies such as Crown Transportation and Port City Logistics.
North Point added more than a half-million square feet to the local industrial landscape in 2017 and has more than 850,000 square feet in the pipeline in 2018.
North Point’s go-to builders are Savannah’s Mahany Construction Co Inc. and Atlanta-based Evans General Contractors.
Mahany, founded by Savannahians Hugh Mahany and Vincent Ferraro in 1985, accounted for all of North Point’s 556,000 square feet built in 2017 and has more than 100,000 under way for Blalock.
Mary Carr Mayle is a freelance business writer. Contact her at email@example.com