Industrial Real Estate is Killing It! The Columbus, Ohio CRE Trend for 2023

Industrial Real Estate TrendsIn the film Ready Player One, Columbus, Ohio, was depicted as the fastest-growing city on Earth in 2045. Why? Because it’s where fictional game developers James Halliday and Ogden Morrow of Gregarious Games launch the OASIS, a fully interactive immersive VR gaming environment where a growing percentage of the human population goes to escape.

While the well-received Steven Spielberg movie may have had thick overtones of a dystopic future, it is impressive that Central Ohio is so prominently featured. From a real-world natural and societal resource perspective, however, it also makes a lot of sense. Even without a mid-century dystopia (fingers crossed), Columbus, Ohio has long benefitted from various advantages. The Arch City is on a trajectory of commercial real estate greatness that overtakes the coasts, robbing them of their long-held Atlantic and Pacific appeal.

Below, we review the industrial real estate trend for 2023, focusing on the digital technology sector. There’s a reason why this incredible city and dynamic region is enjoying such a robust renaissance, set to significantly outpace other markets, possibly for decades to come.

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All-In for Industrial Real Estate

Forget the fictional 2045 and focus on the actual 2023. Even without the OASIS, Columbus is already an oasis of sorts. That’s because it’s one of America’s fastest-growing cities and one of just six cities among the nation’s 15 largest to increase in size during the pandemic.

In Ohio – and Greater Columbus, in particular – lots of raw or underdeveloped commercial land is a given. You’ll also find ample industrial land for sale in the Buckeye State. How about:

  • Amenable climate? Check.
  • Excellent interstates? Check-plus there, too.
  • Proximity to some 60% of the U.S. population, as former Ohio Governor John Kasich often likes to boast? Another bullseye.

But these broad strokes barely scratch the surface of Columbus’ full potential. Add in the aftermath of COVID-19 with lingering supply chain shortages, inflation, and a severe housing and construction crisis, and it’s clear that in many respects, Columbus is bucking several trends while simultaneously pioneering new ones.


(RELATED READING: If you’re in the burgeoning market for industrial rentals in Columbus, Ohio, discover these 4 steps to find and optimize warehouse rental space.)


The Intel Factor

Thanks in no small measure to Intel’s decision to build two $20 billion chip manufacturing plants in Licking County, thousands of commercial land investors are beginning to buy up nearby industrial land for sale and other types of commercial land.

Billed as the most significant private-sector investment in Ohio history, the project’s first phase will create 3,000 Intel and 7,000 construction jobs. According to Intel’s January 2022 press announcement, “the ‘mega-site’ can accommodate eight chip factories – also known as ‘fabs’ – and support operations and ecosystem partners. At full buildout, the total investment in the site could grow to as much as $100 billion over the next decade, making it one of the largest semiconductor manufacturing sites in the world.”

Beyond that, the influx of people and material will ultimately support tens of thousands of additional employment — part-time and full-time positions that will inevitably encourage the continued revitalization of urban cores (like Franklinton, for instance) as everyone from Millennials to Baby Boomers, reap the benefits of higher-density, lower carbon footprint, compact living.

Once Intel and other companies like it get up and running, the crucible for a true Midwestern “Silicon Prairie” begins to take shape, spawning a host of related industries and encouraging yet more transplants to pack up shop and call Columbus home.


Industrial Warehouse and Data Center Bonanza

Industrial warehouses and data centers are the two subsectors most likely to benefit in the short term once Intel goes live in 2025. Data centers are a logical offshoot of Columbus’s homegrown chip development and warehouses to store goods locally (sidestepping supply chain distribution challenges) that today’s increasingly online shoppers demand.

Underscoring the trend: Red Rock Developments, a privately-held commercial real estate and investment company headquartered in Columbia, SC, is nearing completion of the first of two 1-million-square-foot warehouses in Pataskala, also in Licking County. While one million square feet sounds like a lot, it pales compared to the estimated 13 million square feet of additional warehouse space currently under construction.

Supercharging the local computer industry will profoundly affect Columbus’ digital-centric economy, including:

  • e-commerce;
  • brick-and-mortar retail;
  • data centers;
  • pharmaceuticals;
  • alternative energy;
  • electric vehicles;
  • and consumer manufacturing markets.

In Columbus and throughout Central Ohio, the availability of commercial and, specifically, industrial land for sale is a significant driver. But it’s more than that. The region also benefits from a dependable and unregulated energy infrastructure and the low likelihood of natural disasters, helping keep the power on. And it’s not just available land to buy from which to build power plants, wind turbines, and the like. Last month, the Ohio Power Siting Board authorized the construction of another wind farm in Paulding County. Why? Ohio land for sale remains relatively affordable and less prone to environmental extremes like West Coast “atmospheric rivers,” East Coast nor’easters, and Gulf Coast hurricanes.

Finally, fast-forward another decade or two, and some of Columbus’ long-term staying power might resemble a modified Ready Player One script. While the region has warmed about 1°F since preindustrial times, Ohio’s access to the Great Lakes watershed means that industries and people will likely flock to the state.

In fact, according to Great Lakes Now, a news site and public TV program, “the Great Lakes region is frequently touted as one of the most climate-resilient places in the U.S., in no small part because of its enviable water resources.”


Game-On for Industrial Real Estate in Columbus, Ohio

It’s unlikely that a Columbus neighborhood will ever resemble “The Stacks” as depicted in the Spielberg film. However, it is reasonable to believe that Ohio, specifically Columbus, will benefit from its relative inland safety. Such geographic and climatologic decisions will figure prominently in industrial real estate developers’ minds in the future. To a certain extent, such a trend is already underway.

At The Robert Weiler Company, a full-service commercial real estate and appraisal firm with 85 years of community service, we understand deeply how much change has come to our Midwestern metropolis and that the rate of change continues to accelerate.

Columbus is one of America’s fastest-growing cities, which is excellent news. We’re also encouraged by the booming industrial economy. Managing that growth sustainably and responsibly is the best way to ensure that Columbus and its newcomer residents’ best days are ahead, not in some digital virtual reality oasis, but on 100% terra firma.

Whether you need an industrial real estate appraisal or are looking for industrial land for sale or industrial space to rent, lease, or buy, our experts are ready to assist you. Our long history, specialized knowledge, vast resources, and innovative tools enable us to successfully help commercial real estate buyers and sellers, as well as tenants and landlords. Call us at 614-221-4286 or email us at to find out how our industrial real estate brokers and advisors can turn your commercial real estate investment into a profitable oasis.


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