By Natalie Dolce
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY—“Most tenants are looking for flexibility and the ability to expand quickly if need be.” So says Brian Parno, COO for Stirling Development, a mid-sized company with projects in Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties. In San Bernardino County, the firm is re-developing the former George Airforce base in Victorville. Renamed Global Access Victorville, the project encompasses over 2,500 acres of land around the airfield. More than three million square feet of industrial buildings have been completed since 2007, driving more than $250 million of private investment to the local economy. Today, Stirling retains ownership in over 2 million square feet of space with an occupancy level of 99.8%. GlobeSt.com recently chatted with Parno on what tenants have been most active, what industries continue to seek space in the County, and on some of the more exciting trends in industrial today.
GlobeSt.com: What tenants have been most active in your buildings?
Our anchor users are Newell Rubbermaid, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Plastipak and United Furniture Industries. Along with Mars Chocolate, Red Bull, Sparkletts Water and Fastenal, virtually all of our tenants are experiencing growth. At the current time we are accommodating the growth of Pacific Aviation Group with additional space in our multi-tenant buildings by completing tenant improvements for their 55,000 square foot expansion.
GlobeSt.com: What industries continue to seek space in the County? What factors are driving their growth?
The County continues to provide a great platform for distribution of products through the ports to the balance of the country. It is not hard to predict continued growth in the distribution sector for quite some time. With that said, we are witnessing a re-emergence of light manufacturing in the High Desert. Companies can locate in the High Desert and operate under Mojave Desert AQMD, while still being close enough to economically serve the LA basin. This is a benefit that more and more companies are considering. From our High Desert location, companies can serve Nevada and Arizona and Northern California as well as their LA basin clients.
What is important to tenants when seeking space today?
Parno: Most tenants are looking for flexibility and the ability to expand quickly if need be. At the same time, tenants are being careful not to overextend, and want to lock in rent exposure. One of the emerging issues today, with decreasing vacancy rates across the County, is the certainty of occupancy. In other words, securing entitlement and appropriate permitting for build to suit projects within definitive timeframes is becoming increasingly difficult.
How has the County been a proactive partner in your investment and development in the County?
Parno: We have always worked closely with the County to provide options to those companies looking to move into California on a cost effective basis. We are in regular contact with the County to make sure we support their efforts in any way possible. At the same time we are thankful for their efforts to help us through the myriad of regulations and permitting processes that dominate and regulate our business. We see the County as living their mantra of helping businesses overcome hurdles rather than creating them.
What are some of the more exciting trends in industrial today?
Parno: Industrial is in the midst of change with the tremendous growth of e-commerce retailing. More and more industrial buildings are functioning as fulfillment centers, bordering on retail outlets. The demands of these buildings are completely different than that of traditional industrial distribution centers; not only physically, but also on a human scale as they have become large employment centers. These buildings are housing hundreds or thousands of employees and the services required are diverse. The community infrastructure that is required for this transition needs to be carefully considered and provided for. We believe this will bring another wave of opportunity in the near future.
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