Rendering of a planned speculative industrial building at Gillem Logistics Center. SPECIAL

Developers plan large distribution hub in metro Atlanta

Developers of the former Fort Gillem Army post in Clayton County said Wednesday they have broken ground on a second large speculative industrial building in a bid to woo a new regional shipping hub.

The building, which will span about 1 million square feet or the size of a regional shopping mall, will target e-commerce companies and other shippers. Gillem Logistics Center developer Robinson Weeks Partners said the new building, which could grow to about 1.4 million square feet, will be ready by the early next year.

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The Atlanta area has seen a surge in industrial and warehouse development since the Great Recession, driven by internet sales and the desire of both web-based and traditional retailers to get products to consumers faster.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in Sunday’s newspaper, businesses in the Atlanta area leased nearly 6.4 million square feet of industrial space in the first three months of this year, a record for space “absorption,” according to real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Developers seem to think this trend will continue.

Site work for the new Kroger distribution center at Fort Gillem.
Photo: J. Scott Trubey/AJC

Another 15.5 million square feet is under construction, and the vacancy rate of industrial space — mainly warehouses — dipped three-tenths of a point to 8.7 percent, the Cushman & Wakefield report said.

Fort Gillem largely closed in 2011 as part of the Pentagon’s 2005 restructuring process known commonly as BRAC. The city of Forest Park and its developers have since worked to convert the bulk of the post into a corporate logistics hub.

Kroger opened a new distribution hub there in 2015 and the first spec industrial building was leased with tenants including German logistics firm Kuehne+Nagel.

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