We’re just days away from 2022 and there’s excitement for what the new year may bring. One thing’s for sure, however, and that was 2021 was a tremendous year for the world of industrial real estate. The Chicago area benefited greatly from the industrial boom, largely supercharged by the fast-growing transportation, logistics, and warehousing industries.
Every other month, we publish our print publication with researched and reported long-form features. These pieces take deeper dives into what is happening in Chicago industrial real estate in that moment. And fortunately, the archive for 2021 will serve as a resource and record for those looking back at the big industrial boom from the early 2020s.
From refrigeration, to distribution, to manufacturing and adaptive reuse, there were many themes we explored this year, and invite all readers to take a more thorough look back at the archive. We appreciate your support throughout the year, and as always, look forward to reconnecting and reporting on the big stories next year in 2022.
Industrial corridor expansion
We’re in a moment where there’s so much demand for industrial space that development is pushing further and further out into collar counties and other regional markets in northwest Indiana and southeast Wisconsin.
We took a bigger picture look at I-88 and its push further out towards DeKalb. More than that, we also looked at how the I-88 submarket is evolving from a tech office corridor to a manufacturing and logistics superhighway. We also profiled how a mature, built-up submarket like the I-55 corridor is expanding. And at O’Hare, developers and brokers are under immense pressure to secure new land deals.
Insight from top industrial developers
No one knows what’s happening in the market better than the developers who are competing with one another for deals. This is why we routinely reach out to the top industrial developers for comments on trend stories and predictions for what’s ahead.
It should be no surprise that the big players saw growth and competition for 2021 around the halfway point of this year. Our area’s industrial leaders also shared their experiences in person at our events, such as the 18th Annual CIP Industrial Summit. And then for our end-of-year coverage, we reconnecting with the top developers, who predicted further rent grow and even more competition for coveted development opportunities in 2022.
Adaptive reuse in industrial real estate
While the bulk of headlines and stories this year were on the burgeoning transportation and logistics industry, other entrepreneurs have made headway on utilizing industrial space for unconventional purposes. One of the most notable new developments within Chicago proper in 2021 was the opening of the nation’s largest aviation mechanic school on the South Side.
Then you also have business owners taking outdated and obsolete low-density industrial spaces and turning them into something entirely new. For instance, the Guild Row development in Avondale, which has transformed a series of aging industrial buildings into a new event space, commercial kitchen, and social club. And down in Pullman, we saw the reopening of the old Pullman Palace Car Company factory campus as the visitors center for the Pullman National Monument.
Assessing the impact of policy on industrial development
Whether we like it or not, policy and elected leaders have a significant impact on economic development and investment. It’s important for developers and the like to work within the framework of the existing policy climate and be diplomatic when pushing for zoning and new construction. And then there are broader economic policies designed to spur new investment and development, such as the Opportunity Zone program, in which much of the South Side of Chicago falls under.
At the higher level, national changes to workplace safety and regulation has had a trickle down effect on the trucking and transportation industry. While the new laws and rules are designed to protect drivers, there are some unintended consequences that is putting even more pressure on an already strained supply chain.