Colliers International’s Q1 2017 report on the Houston Industrial Real Estate market notes that distribution warehouses account for most of the new, industrial construction in Houston over the last year.  Following, we recap select takeaways from the Colliers International report that support this claim and consider possible contributing factors.

New Industrial Construction Up

For the industrial real estate sector in Houston overall, including warehouse, manufacturing, distribution and other industrial spaces, Colliers International reports new construction deliveries up, at 3.4M SF in Q1 2017 compared to 2.1M SF in Q1 2016, 2.6M SF in Q2 2016 and 2.2M SF in Q4 2016.  Notably, one 2016 quarter (Q3) was significantly higher in new construction deliveries at 6.3M SF. 

Distribution Warehouse New Construction
Port of Houston, Amazon & FedEx

Colliers International cites the breakdown of existing Houston industrial real estate by type as follows, with distribution warehouse space the third most prevalent industrial real estate type after general warehousing and manufacturing facilities.

56% Warehouse
17% Manufacturing
14% Distribution
7% Other
2% Service / Showroom
1% R&D 

According to Colliers International, most of the new construction over the last year in the industrial sector has been for distribution warehouse space, with the area surrounding the Port of Houston a hot spot and distribution centers for Amazon and FedEx planned in other Houston areas. 

Port of Houston
38% of Current New Industrial Construction

Colliers International reports that more than 38% of the 4.9M SF of industrial real estate currently under construction, at the time of the Q1 2017 report, is located near the Houston Ship Channel and the Port of Houston. 

The Port of Houston is the largest U.S. port for foreign waterborne tonnage, accounts for 16% of Texas total GDP, and is continuing to grow.  According to an April 2017 Port of Houston Authority press release, Q1 2017 tonnage was reported at 11% higher compared to Q1 2016, largely due to an 18% increase in container volume.

Future Growth for the Port of Houston
$1.6B In Improvements Over Next 5 Years

The Port of Houston is poised to grow.  According to a Boston Consulting Group Report, the Panama Canal expansion completed last year could shift as much as 10% of container traffic between East Asia and the U.S. from West Coast U.S. ports to East Coast U.S. ports by the year 2020. 

Although benefits to the Port of Houston are still unknown, the port is ramping up facilities to take advantage of the anticipated shift. According to the Texas Comptroller, the Port of Houston Authority plans to spend $1.6B on improvements in the next five years. Neighboring Port Freeport, due to its depth and proximity to open water, is considered best poised among Texas ports to accommodate the larger ships traversing the Panama Canal.  

With the canal expansion, Houston’s role as a global energy hub also positions the Port of Houston to grow, particularly for the transport of LNG and other petro-chemicals. The Texas Comptroller cites that prior to the canal expansion, only 6% of LNG tankers could traverse the canal. Now, 90% can.

Amazon, FedEx & More
Largest Current Industrial Construction Project in Houston

Planned Amazon distribution centers in Houston include a 1M SF distribution center in Katy announced in March 2017 and a currently under construction, 855K SF Amazon Fulfillment Facility in north Houston at Hines’ Pinto Business Park that is scheduled for delivery in July 2017.  Notably, Colliers International cites the Amazon north Houston facility as the largest industrial project currently under construction at the time of the Q1 2017 report.  

FedEx has an 800K SF facility under construction at 8787 W Grand Pky N. scheduled for delivery in August 2017.  Hines Securities is developing a 112K SF distribution warehouse at 14453 Hillcroft St that has not yet been leased and is scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

Houston Economy & Market Drive Growth

The fact that overall industrial new construction is up from 2016 to 2017, is a testament to the strength of the Houston economy and attractiveness of the Houston market.  This, despite the impact of the energy industry downturn in recent years.  According to the Greater Houston Partnership, if the Houston MSA were an independent nation, it would rank as the world’s 26th largest economy, behind Belgium ($527.8 billion), but ahead of Norway ($511.6 billion).   

Where construction surrounding the Port of Houston is related to Houston’s position as a global transportation and logistics hub, the industrial construction for Amazon, FedEx and others, can likely be attributed to the size and growth of the Houston market overall.

Why We Care

The health of the commercial real estate sector and demand for commercial general contracting services go hand in hand.  Having a pulse on trends in the Houston commercial real estate market, including industrial, office and retail, helps us better anticipate and serve market needs. 

More Information & Sources

For more information on the Colliers International reports for Houston commercial real estate sectors, including industrial, office and retail please click here.  To view the Q1 2017 Colliers International report for Industrial Real Estate in the Houston market, please click here.

Other Sources

Texas Comptroller report click here
Boston Consulting Group report click here
Port of Houston press release click here
Greater Houston Partnership statistic click here

The opinions expressed by Garrison Construction Group, LLC do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Colliers International or any other resource cited within this post.