Wednesday, April 4, 2018

NJ Industrial Vacancies At Historic Lows

by Steve Lubetkin,

The Northern and Central New Jersey industrial market started red hot once again in 2018, with continued robust demand, healthy development activity, and further occupancy gains.

“As the New Jersey industrial market lies within the largest consumer base and one of the busiest ports of entry in the United States, market fundamentals should remain strong throughout the year. We anticipate that leasing totals will remain on pace with previous recent quarters, as some large deals are expected to close in the coming months, helping to further bolster absorption. And while some geopolitical issues are evident, demand for space is so robust that the local industrial market may see even more growth in 2018.”

Due to strong leasing activity throughout most of the key submarkets, overall vacancy in Northern and Central New Jersey fell another 20 basis points to 3.6 percent. For warehouse space, vacancy reached another historic low of 3.5 percent, down 90 basis points year-over-year. Many of the primary Turnpike submarkets south of Exit 13 experienced quarterly declines in vacancy, while Exit 8A’s vacancy for warehouse and development (W/D) space ticked lower by 40 basis points to 1.5 percent, with the Lower 287 Corridor’s vacancy rate falling 140 basis points since the end of 2017. And the Upper 287 Corridor now boasts a vacancy rate 0.7 percent for warehouse space, the lowest in the Garden State (down 610 basis points over the last two years).

The industrial market posted another 3.9 million square feet of net absorption during the Q1, marking the fourth straight quarter in which New Jersey has experienced more than 3.8 million square feet of net occupancy gains.

The robust absorption totals for Q1 stem not just from healthy demand within existing product, but also the deliveries of leased up new construction, with much of the positive quarterly absorption concentrated in Central New Jersey. The Lower 287, Exit 8A, and Upper 287 markets accounted for 3.2 million square feet of the total.

Price says that another 2.5 million square feet of industrial product was delivered in Q1 — predominantly in Central New Jersey — with 68 percent of the new product already leased. The largest project was a 305,020-square foot warehouse in Exit 8A by Adler Development. Meanwhile in Northern New Jersey, Snow Joe recently committed to a full-building lease of the newly constructed 271,195-square foot warehouse at 100 Performance Drive in Mahwah.

Even with these new deliveries, another 8.5 million square feet of industrial product is under construction, of which 54 percent has already been leased up. The bulk of the new developments (4.7 million square feet) are in traditional industrial corridors — Exit 8A or Upper 287 — but with space being gobbled up in those areas, two large developments have now broken ground further west. More than 515,000 square feet is under construction in Totowa at 150 Totowa Road, while more than 510,000 square feet is being built in Hillsborough at the Midpoint Logistics Center. Both projects are being built on spec.

Approximately 6.4 million square feet of new transactions were completed in the first three months of the year, with Exit 8A and the Lower 287 Corridor (exits 10-12) both recording sharp quarterly increases in tenant demand (at 1.2 million square feet and 1.4 million square feet, respectively). Interest in the Upper 287 submarket remained healthy as another 646,000 square feet of industrial space was leased up, bringing its total for the last year to almost 3.0 million square feet.

Meanwhile, the Meadowlands submarket remained a premier destination due mainly to its proximity to New York City, having recorded 760,000 square feet of transactions during Q1, on par with the previous few quarters.

Eight new leases greater than 200,000 square feet were signed throughout New Jersey this quarter, much of which occurred between Exit 8A and Exit 14. Logistics companies represented many of the larger transactions, as they expand in the area to help support the growing eCommerce boom.

The largest deals inked during Q1 included:

  • TJ Maxx’s 459,000-square foot at 50 Bryla Street in Carteret
  • Asian eCommerce solutions provider 4PX Logistics’ 354,302-square foot lease at 1000 High Street in Perth Amboy
  • US E Logistics’ 340,000-square foot lease at 100 Cranbury South River Road in South Brunswick
  • XPO Logistics’ 8A expansion, leasing 296,000 square feet and 175,453 square feet at Buildings 1 and 3 at Park 130
  • Hall’s Warehouse’s full-building 278,000-square foot lease on Access Road in Piscataway

Because of robust demand and dwindling supply, asking rents once again ticked even higher. New Jersey experienced a 9.2 percent increase in average asking rents for industrial space over the last year, ending Q1 at $8.21 per square foot, another historical high. For warehouse space, the annual increase was even more notable, at 14.3 percent, bringing rents to $7.93 per square foot, new heights for W/D space. In addition, the Meadowlands rents ticked nominally higher to $10.41 per square foot since the close of 2017, while the Port Region, Upper 287 Corridor, Lower 287, and Morris County all experienced quarterly rises in average asking rents for warehouse space.

Barring unforeseen events, the overall Northern and Central New Jersey industrial market is poised for another banner year, although the rate of growth may temper slightly.

“Despite some large blocks of space potentially becoming vacant later in the year, demand should offset much of the new availabilities and speculative development,” he says. “And while asking rents in the core submarkets are projected to rise further, they could begin to grow at a more moderate pace due to the lack of available, modern, class A space. Finally, developments will persist along the NJ Turnpike and a little further west. The strong appetite for modern warehouse space will likely continue to keep occupancy rates high in newly built facilities.”

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