KC SmartPort

#FLEXKC Panel: Cold storage is next frontier for "on fire" Kansas City industrial market

Kansas City's industrial market remains strong, with more than 3 million square feet of speculative space currently under construction and 1.3 million SF completed in the first quarter.

But in order to succeed in the rapidly changing, omni-channel marketplace, communities and companies need to remain flexible on all fronts, ranging from operations to incentives to workforce development. That's the consensus of panelists at KC SmartPort's 2019 Industry Briefing, FLEXKC.

"While the economy and most indicators point to continued growth, the need for companies to increase flexibility in operations and hiring practices has never been greater. That is true of how companies build, use and occupy space as well,” said KC SmartPort President Chris Gutierrez.

One of the next waves in industrial development will be "Food on Demand" as consumers seek convenience and freedom from the kitchen. That means cold storage facilities are landing at the top of the shopping list for those scouting industrial locations.

"We are seeing an uptick in that sector," said Colby Tanner, BNSF Railway assistant vice president. "Over the last 18 months we have started to get a lot of inquiries from the cold storage sector asking how can we locate along the rail line or have rail access."

Although they come with significant investment and a subsequent boon to local coffers, cold storage facilities can present a challenge when it comes to incentives.

"These are really high-dollar projects, but they require a non-traditional workforce. So from an incentives perspective, you have a project with a huge investment but the challenge will always be workforce,” said Ann Petersen, Cushman & Wakefield managing director. 

Other barriers to entry include higher insurance costs, environmental impacts, and margins squeezed by waste.

"Food on demand is a challenging business, " observed longtime Amazon Site Selector and Keynote Speaker Mike Grella. "I think there’s room for growth there, but we are still in a period of experimentation and iteration." 

For a full event recap, click here.

Overstock.com leases 517,000 SF in KCK, plans to hire 200

Overstock.com has leased 517,000 square feet for a new distribution center at 5300 Kansas Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. 

Luke Burbank and Kyle Roberts with Newmark Grubb Acres in Salt Lake City led the national site search for Overstock.com. Mark Long and John Hassler with Newmark Grubb Zimmer teamed with Newmark Grubb Acres to provide assistance with lease negotiations in the Kansas City region.  The building is owned by BH Properties based in Los Angeles, California. 

“Selecting Kansas City as the home of Overstock’s newest fulfillment center allows us to offer over 99 percent of our US customers two-day shipping options, improving shopping experiences by getting orders into the customer’s hands as soon as possible,” said Carroll Morale, Overstock.com vice president of supply chain. “We’re extremely thankful for all of the support and collaboration we’ve received from state and local officials and the Kansas City Area Development Council during this expansion process.”

Check out the official news release from KC SmartPort!

Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort, led economic development incentive efforts with regional partners including the State of Kansas Department of Commerce and the Wyandotte Economic Development Council. Overstock.com will begin to move in immediately and will employ up to 200 people.

“Kansas offers a great central location and the best workers in the country for any company looking to relocate here. We are thrilled that a successful company such as Overstock has selected Kansas City for its latest distribution center,” said Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D. “Opening for business in Kansas will provide Overstock.com with an excellent strategic location and creates hundreds of well-paying job opportunities for Kansans.”

Florida healthcare technology company expands to metro with new Lenexa distribution center

Convey Health Solutions has expanded into the Kansas City region with a new 38,000-square foot distribution facility at Lackman Business Center, 106th Street and Lackman Road, in Lenexa. The leased space will accommodate the company’s expected growth in the government sponsored healthcare market, allowing Convey to more than triple its shipping capacity.

“As we continue to provide end-to-end OTC solutions for major health plans in the Medicare and Medicaid markets, we want to operate in a central location to provide better service to our clients and their members,” Convey Executive Vice President Jonathan Starr said. 

Convey’s benefits program is designed to help members better manage their day-to-day health while at home. With volume projected to grow more than 50 percent in 2019, the company’s new location will include the latest logistics technology to increase efficiencies and streamline the distribution process.

Convey plans to hire 40 employees at its Lenexa facility. Phil Algrim of Jones Lang LaSalle represented Convey in the transaction; Joe Accurso and Rob Holland of Cushman & Wakefield represented the landlord. Additional partners included the State of KansasCity of LenexaKansas City Area Development Council, and KC SmartPort. 

“Kansas City continues to attract distribution centers due to our access to markets and customers throughout the U.S., and Convey recognized this locational advantage,” said KC SmartPort President Chris Gutierrez. “We expect to see another great year of locational decisions in KC with manufacturing, regional distribution and e-commerce facilities.”

“It is always exciting to welcome a fast-growing company like Convey Health Solutions to our region,” added KCADC President and CEO Tim Cowden. “The KC region continues to rise to the top of the list of cities that are ideal for logistics, supply chain and distribution operations and we’re honored to be the newest home for Convey.”

Additional comments from project partners:

“Our state’s central location always makes Kansas the prime choice for companies looking to locate a distribution center, and combined with the Kansas City area’s already strong concentration of healthcare service companies, Convey Health Solutions couldn’t have picked a better location for its new facility,” said Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. “We are excited to have this pioneering technology company expanding in Kansas and look forward to our continued partnership.”

“We are very pleased that Convey Health Solutions has chosen Lenexa for their new facility,” said Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm. “This operation will feature top of the line technology and will serve as a showcase for the industry. I think Convey will be a great addition to the region.”

MWM Industrial Summit signals continued strong market

A panel of leading Kansas City commercial real estate developers, builders and municipal leaders shared insight into the region's booming industrial market at MetroWireMedia's 2017 Industrial Summit on Friday, Aug. 25 at Blue Hills Country Club. 

Here's a snapshot of industry insight from our panelists:

“We are seeing about 60 percent of users come from outside the Kansas City area, and we are on pace to deliver over 10 million square feet this year."  -Kevin WilkersonJLL

“The supply side of industrial development has been somewhat disciplined. Demand has not outpaced supply at all, so we expect it will continue in a healthy fashion.” -Mark LongNewmark Grubb Zimmer

“Kansas City companies can reach 90 percent of the U.S. in two days' shipping, so a company that years ago believed they needed to be near population densities on the east or west coast can reach 90 percent of their customers right here.” -Mike Bell, Hunt Midwest

“We are seeing more 'small boxes' that are appealing to tenants who want to be in their own space and not have to share a building, or they are a 60,000 to 80,000 square foot tenant and it appeals to them to have a right of first refusal and be in their own space and growing.” -Sam Stahnke, ARCO Construction

“From a long-term perspective, Kansas City has now reached a new level within the country as a major destination for e-commerce distribution, and that’s not going to change. The growth is going to continue for some time.” -Whitney Kerr, Jr., Cushman & Wakefield

“We are looking for opportunities where there is going to be a significant incentive to do business in Kansas City. We aren’t trying to create winners and losers amongst you all; we are trying to create winners for all of you within our Port District.” -Michael Collins, Port KC

“One of the challenges for local government, especially a government as small as Edgerton, is to be aware of what all levels of government are doing and how that might impact our ability to provide attractive incentives. Edgerton is certainly looking for opportunities to be creative and to have incentives that look different from other areas of the country.” -Beth Linn, Edgerton City Administrator

"MetroWireMedia has assembled a group of Kansas City commercial real estate leaders who are at the top of their game in what is without question the strongest industrial real estate market in recent Kansas City history. I look forward to leading the discussion as we hear about best practices for sustaining the momentum in the current red-hot market." -Chris Gutierrez, KC SmartPort

Want more insider scoop? Mark your calendars for MetroWireMedia's 2017 Multi-Family Summit on Oct. 12. Contact Lisa Shackelford for sponsorship information. 

Check out our slideshow below, or head to our Facebook page and tag yourself in the event photos.