Interstate Expansion, Low Land Prices, Proximity to Port Leading to Increased Business Opportunities in West Virginia Eastern Panhandle | State Journal



It is not a daily occurrence to announce that a million square feet of commercial real estate has been sold. Colliers, the third-largest international provider of commercial real estate services, with more than 60 offices worldwide, did so recently, noting that three large industrial facilities are planning to open in the Eastern Panhandle.

“It’s certainly not the norm, and we usually don’t get that kind of speed in a single quarter, but it’s a reflection of a larger trend of a big increase in interest. for business, development and growth in the Eastern Panhandle, ”said John Lesinksi, executive vice president of the company’s Tyson’s Corner office in Virginia.

Upcoming buildings in the area include a 10-year, 580,000 square foot warehouse lease that allowed a subsidiary of The Clorox Co. to expand into Martinsburg; a seven-year, 314,000 square foot lease renewal for the transportation services company Hollingsworth Logistics Group, also in Martinsburg; and a 138,000 square foot five-year lease with a Jefferson County rock wool manufacturer.

The Colliers team anticipates further expansion in this particular area, due to its proximity to major interstate highways and ports off Virginia and Maryland.

“I think one of the reasons the focus has been on West Virginia right now is our workforce – and we have a strong workforce,” said Joy Lewis, vice president of the Colliers International office in Northern Virginia. “We also have a community where a lot of people move out of the area to work, and these new facilities provide people with high paying jobs in the area and they don’t need to travel and they can spend more time. with Their families. “

They see more companies appearing in the region in the future, thanks to what they call speculative development.

“These are buildings that are under construction with no tenant in hand,” Lesinski said. “What we’ve discovered over the past 18 to 24 months is that many of these buildings under construction are typically vacated before they are completed. This is another sign of the strength of our economy in the sleeve.

For years, Interstate 95 was the main transportation route on the East Coast, but now more business is done on I-81, which crosses the Northern Panhandle. Lesinski said two-thirds of the country can be traveled in one day from I-81. This has helped businesses feel comfortable relocating to the Eastern Panhandle.

“It really has become a primary logistics corridor for the Mid-Atlantic,” Lesinksi said. “The I-95 is still quite used, but it is becoming more and more difficult to travel. I-81 has become an alternative.

Many industries are now migrating south, crossing the Mason Dixon Line.

“In the hills of Maryland, West Virginia, and the top of Virginia, we are seeing this dynamic, and we are probably also starting to see an emigration from the greater Washington DC area, where rents and prices of grounds are really, really high.

The cheaper land prices have benefited the enclave region.

“The land for data centers currently in Northern Virginia is over $ 1 million an acre,” Lesinski said. “It’s really hard to compete as a warehouse or logistics company or a manufacturer in this type of environment, so our market is likely to benefit as well. “

The Eastern Panhandle is conveniently located near two of East Coat’s main shipping ports: one in Virginia and one in Maryland.

“A lot of goods go through there and head for the Shenandoah Valley,” Lesinski said. “The Virginia Inner Port is a rail line, operated by Norfolk Southern, and the Port of Baltimore heads west, and there are a lot of importers and exporters in the northern Shenandoah Valley that use the rail.”

With improvements and expansions to I-81, as well as more businesses realizing the benefits of Eastern Panhandle commercial real estate, the Colliers team sees the region continue to grow.

“We are now seeing many developers that we had not seen in the past who are interested in purchasing land along I-81 in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, specifically to construct more buildings. “said Lesinski. “They are not only seeing the growth of businesses that are already there, but the presence of new businesses entering the region for the first time.”

Contact Chris Slater at [email protected], 304-887-6681, or follow @chris_slater on Twitter.


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