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Oklahoma City's industrial market invites investors

The Oklahoma City area's industrial property market continues to show signs of steady growth and it's expected to continue in 2014, according to CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma's 2013 year-end report.
by Richard Mize Published: January 25, 2014

When I grow up, I want to build warehouses or be an industrial property broker.

Big concrete buildings! Designed for big racks of big containers of stuff! Big metal warehouses! Made for big trucks to load and unload big loads!

Floors as wide as the prairie! Columns disappearing into the shadows of a tall ceiling. Docks and bays and truck turnarounds and just go ahead and insert Tim “the Tool man” Taylor's grunt here. Or a HOO-ah!

Big boxes! On dirt! Tilt-up concrete? Legos! What's not to like?

Thinking about it tickles my inner 8-year-old boy. Keep your fancy offices and your hoity-toity hotels and your silly, frilly stores and just how many houses can a residential broker stand to show? Give me industrial, please.

From the toy blocks, tool belts and Tonka trucks of my childhood to concrete, pallets and racks, big rigs and rail spurs in the old industrial district along Santa Fe Avenue just north of downtown or out by the airport in southwest Oklahoma City — it doesn't seem that far of a leap.

Kidding, boss!

Industrial property is hit and miss. But maybe now's the time for a hit. Good absorption, stable lease rates across the metro area and rent growth in three of five submarkets the second half of last year, after several quarters of growth, have CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma thinking positive in its year-end report.

Which means speculative industrial construction (cue dramatic music ... make that truckin' music).

Now, I know the pros in the business are rolling their eyes. But I also know they know it's true: Spec industrial development in Oklahoma City is so rare, anything of much significance is always news — once the planning and zoning is under review or a building permit's issued or some dirt has been moved or something. “Planning to” isn't always news. Doing is.

So, let me in on it. We'll get the word out. Speculative industrial construction seems to fly under most people's radar, even in economic development circles, because spec means “for lease” or “for sale,” not “We're hiring” — and because not that many of us have inner 8-year-old boys who like big boxes and dirt and big trucks and stuff.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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