Where Are the Warehouses for Rent in Columbus Ohio? The Industrial Real Estate Wave Continues

Warehouses for Rent in Columbus OhioLooking at warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio might leave you empty-handed or, at the very least, with an unflattering representation from the good old Oxford English dictionary. The definition reads as follows: “a large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored before their export or distribution for sale.”

Jolly good, right? Not! Because when you dig a little deeper, it becomes clear that Oxford’s matter-of-fact prose doesn’t do warehouse space for rent any justice. Not at all. In fact, in many respects, warehouse rental space is the backbone of the U.S. economy. While our air, rail, interstate highway, and shipping network is undoubtedly robust, without warehouses to rent in Columbus, Ohio, the American economy would grind to a halt. (Consider the strategically located facilities in our region that are striking distance to numerous population centers throughout the Midwest, South, and Northeast/Mid-Atlantic!)

Food would rot by the ton. Unused products by the millions would gather dust. Store shelves would sit empty. And there would be no warehouse rentals left for artists and creatives to set up shop in neighborhoods undergoing zoning and population transitions.

If anything, the value of American warehouse space has only increased. Demand for warehouses to rent in Columbus, Ohio is forecasted to jump 61 percent in 2021, up from a nearly 14 percent increase from the year prior. Not only is demand rising, but the amount of available warehouse space (both locally and nationally) is estimated to be at historic, 40-year lows.

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A ‘Budding’ Opportunity for Warehouses for Rent in Columbus, Ohio

It doesn’t take a wizard of economics to appreciate that when something is in demand and availability is low, scarcity drives up the price and demand. After all, people tend to want what they can’t have. That was true for the Dutch tulip bulb market bubble of 1637 (where the estimated price of the then-exotic Turkish import reached a berserk $750,000 per bulb), and it’s true today. While no “warehouse bubble” is yet forecast, in another report, estimates that demand for warehouse space for rent could reach an additional 1 billion square feet by 2025.

So what is it that accounts for this great American warehouse wave? For the moment, the shortage of warehouses to rent in Columbus, Ohio has COVID-19 to thank – and the explosion of e-commerce. With malls and downtowns dark, all the inventory that would have landed on brick-and-mortar shelves remained at large distribution centers where trucks delivered said goods to eagerly awaiting customers sitting comfortably on the couch. While only about 35 percent of warehouse space for lease activity was related to e-commerce before the pandemic, the figure is as high as 50 percent.

Like the tulip bulb bubble, here too, there’s an artificial forcing mechanism at work: the virus. Eventually, the pandemic will end, and some of the warehouse craze will crash as those same malls and downtowns recoup their lost foot traffic.

But even if relative normalcy takes hold, it’s unlikely that warehouse rental space demand will suddenly crater. That means the same knowledge base for selecting, leasing, investing, or just looking for warehouse rental space in Columbus, Ohio is as applicable at this red-hot market moment as it will be in the future. So whether it’s boom times or bust, below are the variables you should consider when jumping into your search for warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio.


What’s in a Name: Warehouse Rental Space vs. Industrial Real Estate

When first examining industrial real estate, these two terms, “warehouse” and “industrial” space dominate. The words, at least in common speak, tend to overlap, so much so that for the uninitiated, they become entangled. But in returning to our Oxford definition, warehouse space is essentially a place to store goods. A more expansive, industry-friendly definition would likely include other logistics related to how staff is used to organize the warehouse space, the software required to manage the inventory, and the machinery necessary to move bulk items as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Digsy, the LA-based free on-demand commercial real estate search service, describes skilled warehousing managers as “the first 100 yards of a logistics network.” This is especially true for third-party logistics (3PL) companies whose businesses depend on keeping their customers happy.

Industrial space is a far broader term than warehouse space for rent. It is a place where a business can manufacture, fabricate, assemble, have employees, and conduct meetings. The critical distinction is that industrial space is a hybrid term, where business/manufacturing can be done whereas warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio is best-considered storage as a service.

If you’re looking to purchase commercial industrial real estate, it’s essential to know and understand this distinction. If you’re looking to sell your warehouse rental space, it’s crucial to advertise the difference as well. By not noting the difference carefully in your marketing spend or Google ads, you risk attracting the wrong potential customers. That’s marketing dollars that could have been put to better use.


How to Select a Warehouse Space for Rent

Now you have your definitions straight. And you know what type of property you’re seeking. The next step is determining the warehouse rental space you want, a space that maximizes both cost and convenience. As noted earlier, warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio is well situated geographically (essentially a one-day drive from numerous markets in various regions throughout the U.S.) to best capitalize on these needs, enabling a faster, more efficient supply chain.

In addition to location, here are five essential takeaways all would-be warehouse renters should consider:

  • Easy Access – Having easy access to your warehouse for rent is critical if the operation is going to run smoothly. Failure to secure this necessary criterion could result in delayed shipment, angry customers, and lost current and future business. Access isn’t only about the physical space of the warehouse rentals; it’s about the transit approach. Ask yourself: what are the traffic conditions like? How impactful are the region’s winters regarding road closures, snow, and ice? (In Columbus, midwinter features average daily temperatures below freezing and 28 inches of snow.) Is there access to public transportation? And does your warehouse for rent in Columbus, Ohio easily connect with primary and secondary interstates? (Again, in Columbus, the city is served primarily by I-270/the Jack Nicklaus Freeway, a beltway around the metropolitan area, and I-70, the east-west artery that runs from Maryland to Utah. Consider your warehouse rental space relative to these two roads, as well as smaller state highways.)
  • Warehouse Double Duty – In the American warehouse landscape, not all warehouses are created equally. There are warm storage facilities, cold storage facilities, sophisticated AI-enabled inventorying machinery, and software, among other variables. Don’t just choose an ample empty space and consider your work done. Sometimes, an organization may use third-party companies to outsource its distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services. When it comes to third-party logistics (3PL), make sure you know the degree to which these elements will need to be networked separately or are baked into the proverbial cake as part of the warehouse for rent.
  • Employee Makeup – For all the talk of machinery and software, it still takes men and women to operate this equipment. And a skilled workforce is vital. Research employees’ experience level and determine if they have the necessary skills to handle special projects. Also, compare the size of the warehouses to rent in Columbus, Ohio to the number of employees. Ideally, you want a robust size-to-employee ratio so that there is sufficient staff to handle the volume of goods the warehouse stores and ships.
  • Techs ‘n’ Specs – While this bullet point may seem to contradict the above, it doesn’t. Think of it as more of a compliment. Yes, men and women matter, but so do machines and software. Techs ‘n’ Specs refer to the technology underpinning your warehouse space for rent. The first step is to confirm whether or not the company’s processing and supply chain systems can integrate with shipping companies and other must-have services. But it’s more than that. Drones, pick-by-vision systems, electronic data transfer, smart warehousing (AI-enabled inventory management), and autonomous and semi-autonomous workflows all make a difference.
  • Credentialing Counts – This last piece of advice might seem like a lower priority, but it isn’t. Many warehouses to rent in Columbus, Ohio are members of associations. Taking the time to become affiliated with one suggests seriousness and dedication to the warehousing industry. Joining an association also shows the warehouse’s eagerness and assurance to offer services according to the association’s warehousing standards; in other words, compliance toward an industry-specific watchdog group.


Tips and Tricks of Obtaining Warehouse Space for Lease

Let’s say you’re leasing warehouse space for your business. Now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. What do you do then? Well, as with the above, you do your homework.

As a lessee, the three most important variables to consider are:

  • HVAC maintenance and costs;
  • overall operating expenses; and
  • square footage calculations.

With HVAC, be sure to negotiate with the landlord over who will pay for essential maintenance and who will pay for major repairs and replacement. Don’t assume the landlord will assume this responsibility outright. Read the fine print. Also, before signing, always require that the landlord perform an HVAC inspection and certify it in writing by a qualified technician.

When it comes to operating costs, like with HVAC, a lot can be included, and a lot can be excluded. Operating costs often include taxes, insurance, and maintenance. But you need to know exactly what the landlord is going to pay for and what you will be responsible to pay. It’s always best that you don’t assume anything.

Lastly, some landlords calculate square footage according to their own rules. Make sure you know their “rulebook” and what’s being considered. Your goal is simple: ensure that you’re only paying for the usable square footage for the goods you will store. Some landlords will try to include the area beneath the building’s drip lines, and some will calculate from the outside of the wall. Stay vigilant against these nickel and diming practices.

Beyond these three variables, a final element to consider for warehouses to rent in Columbus, Ohio is the loading area itself. Ask yourself: will you have products delivered or picked up in 18-wheelers or UPS-style trucks? This matters, as the loading dock must be high enough to accommodate these needs. Also, will the trucks be driving into the warehouse? If so, such a scenario will require at-grade loading. If the space doesn’t have what you need, inquire whether the landlord can meet those needs. Trailers and trucks used to be about 45 ft. Today, however, trucks are often larger, at 60 ft. For these larger vehicles, a 120-ft turning area is essential. Older warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio may not be able to meet this need.


A “Totally Tubular” Experience

Believe it or not, the above information only scratches the surface of the logistical thought process involved with purchasing or leasing warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio. Especially when the demand for warehouse rentals is so high, locking down your desired place can be a stressful and fast-paced experience from either side of the equation. That’s just the right environment for mistakes to happen.

At The Robert Weiler Company, a full-service commercial real estate and appraisal firm, we know how important these decisions are to you. We also know that in our good city of Columbus, Ohio, a.k.a., “the Cap City,” or if you prefer, “CBUS,” the commercial real estate marketplace can be ruthless.

Don’t become blindsided by inadequate preparation, an absence of knowledge, or a lack of strategy. Let us be your “go-to” team so that, together, we can help you surf the tremendous American industrial real estate surge with success! Hit the waves of warehouses for rent in Columbus, Ohio by calling The Robert Weiler Company at 614-221-4286 or emailing brokerage@rweiler.com.


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