chi-FranklinParkRendering (2) CA Industrial wants to focus on infill properties that can serve dense urban areas, such as this new one by Bridge Development, which replaces a collection of storage tanks in Franklin Park, IL.

CHICAGO—The strength of the US industrial market has brought in a lot of new investors, but it’s also attracting new developers. Chicago-based CA Ventures, a global firm that has already made its mark in student housing, among many other sectors, has just launched CA Industrial, a new division that will pursue speculative development in the logistics and distribution space and also acquire properties throughout much of the US.

CA Industrial plans to invest $500 million the next five years. Sean Spellman, the company’s chief development officer, and Jim McGill, a 24-year industrial real estate veteran who has joined the team as executive vice president of CA Industrial, will lead the expansion.

“We’ve been one of the most active real estate developers in the country in many sectors,” Spellman tells, and it was time to leverage CA’s vertically integrated team and longstanding relationships within the industry to jump into what currently could be its most vibrant field.

“Supply is choked a little bit and not keeping up with the demand for space,” McGill says. Part of the reason is that “it’s getting much more challenging to find land,” especially to satisfy the need for infill properties which can serve dense urban populations that increasingly order consumer goods and online and demand quick delivery.

The creation of this “last-mile” delivery ecosystem is still in the beginning stages, but the scarcity of land means the sector will need developers with the scale and sophistication to secure the appropriate sites. “We have the proven ability to close quickly,” Spellman says.

McGill adds that although CA Industrial will focus on land-constrained markets, largely in the central US, it will also consider potential projects in metros like Indianapolis which still have large amounts of land available.

“Using data-driven metrics to guide market, product and site selection, we will leverage organizational synergies from our other business lines, along with the expertise of both Sean and Jim, to expedite deal execution as we rapidly yet strategically grow the industrial portfolio,” says Tom Scott, chief executive officer of CA Ventures.