Closed Factories Re-purposed as E-commerce Distribution Hubs

(p. B7) As the United States economy continues its shift away from manufacturing, locations that once housed industries such as automobiles or chemicals are being remade as distribution hubs for the millions of items bought by consumers online.

Developers are trying to meet growing demand by modifying industrial buildings to meet the requirements of the logistics business or, more likely, demolishing them to make way for facilities built for the distribution industry. These sites offer many benefits ideal for distribution, including easy access to highways, ports and rail links and a proximity to major markets.

“Logistics and fulfillment is really the segment of the industrial world that has backfilled the void that manufacturing has left in terms of employment and economic activity,” said Thomas J. Hanna, president of Harvey Hanna & Associates, which plans to tear down a former General Motors assembly plant at Newport, Del., to create a three-million-square-foot complex for distribution companies.

Plans are in place to redevelop other former manufacturing sites across the nation, including a former plastics factory in Piscataway, N.J., and an old Ford plant in Lorain, Ohio.

E-commerce is driving strong growth in demand for industrial sites, according to a report from Newmark Knight Frank, a global commercial real estate company. “As consumers across economic and demographic spectrums continue to demand more rapid product delivery, developers have had to innovate their product and offer more highly efficient space in the largest urban markets,” the report said.

For the full story, see:

Jon Hurdle. “SQUARE FEET; Places That Once Made Goods Now Speed Them to Your Door.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018): B7.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 18, 2018, and has the title “SQUARE FEET; These Sites No Longer Make Goods. Now They’ll Get Them to You Faster.”)

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