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ATLANTA-The local industrial market posted 859,347 square feet of negative overall absorption during this year’s first quarter, mostly in the south and northwest submarkets, according to a research report by Cushman & Wakefield. This follows nearly 6.3 million square feet of positive overall absorption throughout 2008.

“With the economy mired in a recession that is expected to surpass every previous recession since the 1930s in terms of direction, depth and duration, companies focused primarily on consolidations and renewals in an effort to fine-tune their supply chains,” wrote Chris Shaner, senior research associate with Cushman & Wakefield’s Atlanta office. He noted that development activity slowed throughout the metropolitan area in the first quarter, with 200,000 square feet completed and only 156,160 square feet under construction.

Overall vacancy increased to 9.7% in the first quarter, the city’s highest level in two years but still well below the 14.6% peak reached in 2004, Shaner said. Direct asking rents remained at $4 per square foot through the first three months of this year, while just 532,124 square feet of investment sales activity was recorded for the period, he said.

Industrial transactions that are under way in the Atlanta market are a bit different than the usual warehouses and manufacturing space. For example, Colliers Spectrum Cauble has subleased a 35-acre trucking terminal in South Atlanta to ConGlobal Industries Inc. for storage of empty containers and maintenance operations.

ConGlobal will use the site to manage intermodal containers for in-bound shippers through Southeast ports, transferring them to rail and truck. “Increasingly, logistics requirements are as focused on yard space for containers and dropped trailers as they are on actual square footage under roof,” says Steve Grable, senior vice president of Colliers Spectrum Cauble.

Grable and fellow Colliers broker Jeremy Greenwell represented ConGlobal in the transaction at 2090 Jonesboro Road, while Rob Fisher and Chris Gadrix of CB Richard Ellis represented Atlanta-based HD Supply in the seven-year transaction. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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