Commercial Real Estate

Know Your Property Types: Industrial Property Comes In All Shapes and Sizes

Industrial property is a broad category encompassing many different types of buildings, each with different characteristics designed to support different business operations. In searching for industrial for sale, warehouse space, industrial space or warehouses for sale, it is useful to have a basic understanding of the differences between industrial property types.

Here are brief descriptions of eight major industrial property types:

Warehouse/Distribution Buildings

Warehouse/Distribution buildings are very large, single-story structures used primarily for warehousing and the distribution of business inventory. These buildings range from 50,000 to hundreds of thousands of square feet under roof and have up to 60-foot ceiling heights to accommodate extensive racking and storage systems. These buildings may have a small amount of office space as numerous loading docks, truck doors and large surface parking lots to semi-trailers. Some buildings may be served by rail cars.

Manufacturing Buildings

Manufacturing facilities (also called heavy industrial buildings) are designed to house specialized equipment used to produce goods or materials. In addition to providing three-phase high capacity, electric power, these industrial properties may include heavy ductwork, pressurized air or water lines, buss ducts, high capacity ventilation and exhaust systems, floor drains, storage tanks and cranes.

Refrigeration/Cold Storage Buildings:

Refrigeration/Cold Storage are specialized industrial buildings that offer large capacity cold storage and/or freezer space. They are often used as a distribution center for food products that require refrigeration/freezing.

Telecom / Data Hosting Centers

These are highly specialized industrial buildings located in close proximity to major communications trunk lines with access to an extremely large and redundant power supply capable of powering extensive computer servers and telecom switching equipment. These buildings have reinforced floor slabs capable of supporting the weight of the electrical and computer equipment as well as backup generators, and specialized HVAC. They may also include raised flooring to handle cooling and extensive cabling. These buildings may also be called Switching Centers, Cyber Centers, Web Hosting Facilities and Telecom Centers.

Flex Buildings:

This versatile building type (short for “Flexible”) covers a broad range of uses and often is used to combine one or more uses in a single facility, including office space, research and development, showroom retail sales, light manufacturing research and development (R&D) and even small warehouse and distribution uses. Because of this versatility, flex buildings are sometimes listed as separate category. Flex buildings typically have ceiling heights under 18 feet and have a higher percentage of office space than larger industrial buildings.

Light Manufacturing Buildings:

Flex buildings can be used for light manufacturing that do not require extensive physical plant and space requirements that heavy industrial buildings provide; such as light assembly.

R&D Buildings:

Flex buildings are popular in high technology industries such as computers, electronics and biotechnology because they effective support a hybrid of office, manufacturing and warehouse space housed in a single location. Often these types of space users prefer locating in campus-like business parks featuring extensive landscaping, shared architecture design, and lots of surface parking and open space.

Showroom Buildings:

Similar to flex/office buildings in basic construction and layout, showroom buildings combine retail display space with extensive onsite storage and distribution. Typically up to 50% of the interior space in showroom buildings is dedicated to sales.

Biotech (Wet Lab) Buildings:

Biotech buildings are highly specialized flex buildings that support a range of laboratory space where chemicals, drugs or other material or biological matter are tested and analyzed. This type of building requires extensive plumbing and water distribution, direct ventilation and specialized piped utilities. In addition, some may offer accurate temperature and humidity controls, dust control, and heavy power. Often these types of buildings are located together in campus-like fashion with extensive landscaping, extensive surface parking and open space.

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