ORLANDO-This may be the best time in years for tenants needing big-box bulk distribution space of 100,000 sf or more to cut a once-in-a-lifetime deal with property owners. That is the suggestion of a new analysis by the Orlando office of Grubb & Ellis Co. of the area’s 94.6 million-sf industrial market.

Reason: There is 3.2 million sf of sublease space on the market right now, up from one million sf in July, according to a previously reported study by David Murphy, a senior broker at CB Richard Ellis Inc.

“The bottom line is that it is a great time for large users to negotiate below-market rental rates, and an uncertain time for building owners who face an extended holding period before lease up,” Grubb & Ellis’s Jeff York, vice president, real estate advisory services group, tells GlobeSt.com.

“While the three million sf of vacant space represents only 3% of the entire metro area industrial market, it is still a large factor to be considered,” York says.

Murphy agrees the market is providing “significant opportunities” for tenants looking to renew at existing premises or to find new space. Buthe cautions that “newer bulk and flex buildings that do not suffer from functional obsolescence are much more marketable and tend to hold their rental rates better than the second-generation product.”

Bulk distribution sublease rates are in the $3 per sf to $3.75 per sf net rental range. New bulk space runs from $3.75 per sf to $4 per sf.

Compounding the sublease volume is 900,000 sf of first-generation product competing against 2.1 million sf of second-generation space. Construction of new product has all but halted.

“Only 216,000 sf is currently under construction, representing a significant withdrawal from the market by developers,” York says.

“While the past 12 months have seen some prominent build-to-suit activity for large users, this is primarily a shifting around of tenants that have already been established within the market,” he adds. “We have seen very few deals of significance coming from out of the area, which simply is a reflection of the weakened economy.”

CBRE’s Murphy calls the pause in the construction of new speculative space “a prudent response (by developers) to current market dynamics.”

While Murphy acknowledges the sublease volume is growing, he doesn’t feel first-generation space will have a problem competing against second-generation product.

“Much of the sublease space available in the market consists of older, second-generation product,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “These buildings often suffer from one or a number of forms of functional obsolescence” such as lower clear ceiling heights, shallow truck courts, older fire protection systems.

York’s outline of 14 big-box bulk distribution properties showing amount of contiguous space available is the first analysis of its kind locally. The 14 buildings have at least 100,000 sf, dock high with a minimum ceiling height of 24 feet clear.

Murphy says the new bulk distribution space typically has 30-foot clear height, large truck courts to ease improved loading and ingress/egress, and ESFR fire protection systems.

“These buildings appeal to sophisticated tenants who require more out of their industrial space, so the new buildings continue to be viable, even against the lower cost alternatives,” the CBRE broker tells GlobeSt.com.

He says some markets, such as the 33rd Street submarket and the northwest Orlando submarket “are still robust and have fewer alternatives for opportunistic tenants” looking to cut new deals at below-market rents.

Within York’s list of 14 big-box bulk distribution space is 658,343 sf of sublease space at four different buildings. “Although there is a primary tenant still paying rent on the space, the buildings are being offered on the market as being available, typically at a discounted rate over what the primary tenant is paying,” York says.

The buildings are 10701 Central Port Dr., 555,000 sf; 901 Landstreet Rd., 460,000 sf; 2444 Tradeport Dr., 269,477 sf; Crossroads VI, 216,000 sf; 401 Tradeport Dr., 207,240 sf; 4201 and 4311 Shader Rd., 206,858 sf; 1800 and 1850 Rd., 188,468 sf; 2501 Investors Row, 180,000 sf; 8000 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 175,444 sf; 6715 Highway 27 North, 150,160 sf; 6705 Highway 27 North, 150,160 sf; 2500 Principal Row, 140,015 sf; and 7469 Kingspointe Pkwy., 128,000 sf.

CBRE’s Murphy isn’t disheartened by the volume of available sublease product, however.

“We are bullish on the Central Florida industrial market moving forward and expect to see a return of development as the industrial climate improves,” he tells GlobeSt.com.

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