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Inland region to stay capital of large industrial projects

The Inland Empire is already the king of “big-box” industrial projects, and that trend will only continue for the next 10 years or so.

That was the consensus of a panel of industrial real estate experts who spoke Wednesday at a seminar on the evolution of large warehouse- distribution projects.

The 90-minute session, which attracted about 70 developers and real estate brokers to the Citizens Business Bank Building in Ontario, was sponsored by the Inland Empire chapter of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association.

Matt Brady, an architect with Ware Malcomb, an international architectural firm based in Irvine, discussed the latest development in large industrial projects: e-commerce centers, also known as fulfillment centers, the highly automated warehouse-distribution facilities that are designed to deliver products directly to consumers, usually on the day they’re ordered.

“E-commerce centers are only becoming more common even though they cost roughly as much to build per square foot as a Class A office building,” Brady said.

“It’s a warehouse, but it doesn’t function like a regular warehouse because it doesn’t deliver the product to a warehouse,” Brady said of the typical e-commerce operation. “They go into high-density areas, closer to consumers, and we’re only going to see more of them.”

Ken Wink, executive vice president with Malcomb Ware, discussed the California Green Building Standards Code, or CalGreen, a detailed set of environmental provisions regarding industrial projects that became law five years ago.

CalGreen established different sets of regulations, or “tiers,” for different projects, with local jurisdictions deciding which tier is appropriate for a project.

“It’s the law,” Wink said. “It’s not optional, and there are some new items in it. You might want to hire a third-party consultant to make sure you’re obeying the codes.”

Robert Evans, executive director of the NAIOP Inland Empire chapter, said he was pleased with the conference and the size of the audience it attracted.

“We’ve been getting a lot of feedback all day,” Evans said. “People said they learned a lot and found it pretty enlightening.”

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