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Warehouse Project Is Latest in Inland Empire

April 10, 2001|BOB HOWARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Developer Western Realco of Newport Beach will break ground in June on the latest in a series of huge warehouse buildings in and around Ontario, a $37-million, 1.1-million-square-foot speculative industrial park next to Ontario International Airport.

The project, on 57 acres at the southeast corner of Mission Boulevard and Mildred Street, is called Airport Mission Business Park and will include buildings of 857,000, 168,000 and 102,000 square feet, said Gary Edwards, a Western Realco vice president.

Western Realco is developing the site in partnership with Hartford, Conn.-based Times Square Real Estate Investors and expects to complete construction early next year. Oltmans Construction of Whittier is the general contractor. Bastien & Associates of Tustin is the architect.

Western Realco is confident that demand for industrial space will remain strong. "We're obviously hearing the same things everyone else is hearing about the economy," Edwards said, "but we're still seeing a lot of activity from users with large requirements and we're optimistic about the market."

Developers have been building increasingly larger warehouses in the Inland Empire for 10 years, Edwards noted. New projects typically range from 500,000 to 800,000 square feet, compared with 200,000 square feet 10 years ago.

The bigger buildings are a response to the changing needs of warehouse operators, many of whom are consolidating operations and seeking larger facilities with such features as higher ceilings, better accommodations for loading and unloading and easier access for trucks.

Ontario has one of the region's largest concentrations of new warehouses, including more than 16 million square feet now under construction, compared with about 8.6 million square feet under construction in Los Angeles County and 1.5 million square feet in Orange County.

The Inland Empire has led Southern California in construction of industrial space in recent years, experts say, because it has plentiful land near freeways in Riverside and San Bernardino counties while Los Angeles and Orange counties are all but out of space for construction.

The industrial real estate market remains relatively tight in Ontario and the surrounding area despite the building boom. The Inland Empire's 236-million-square-foot industrial market is about 7.7% vacant, according to Grubb & Ellis, compared with a 3.6% vacancy level in Los Angeles County's 890-million-square-foot industrial market and 7.6% in Orange County's 256-million-square-foot market.

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