Pittsburgh Industrial Snapshot – Q2 2018

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Productivity enhancements and substantial capital investments helped drive growth within the manufacturing sector up 2.0% in Q2 2018 over the same period 2017. According to the Allegheny Conference’s Business Investment Scorecard, manufacturing and advanced manufacturing were second only to information technology and robotics in capital investment and job creation in 2017, posting $165 million in investments and 1,335 new jobs. Watt Fuel Cell Corporation, based in Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, was the top fundraiser in Q2 2018 with $10.7 million in investments. Pittsburgh posted one of its lowest  unemployment rates in recent history in Q2 2018 at just 4.5%, while adding nearly 13,000 new jobs to the region during the same period.

 

Market Overview

New build-to-suit project announcements dominated the news cycle in Q2 2018. Perhaps most significant was Niagara Bottling Company’s purchase of a 42-acre site in Findlay Industrial Park, Parkway West, where it plans to construct a 460,000-square-foot (sf) water bottling and distribution facility. Just behind the Niagara project was Scannell Properties’ 450,000-sf distribution center at Starpointe Business Park, Washington County, for an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell. Additionally, Vollmer, a tool-machining company, is building a 29,300-sf service and distribution facility on a 5.85-acre parcel at RIDC Park West.

On the speculative front, Brooktrout Development broke ground on the first building in its 23-acre Brooktrout Business Park in McKees Rocks, Parkway West. The developer will occupy the first building but intends to build up to 20 additional buildings of approximately 12,000 sf each. Schreiber Industrial Park in New Kensington, Westmoreland County, is the latest speculative industrial redevelopment project to launch. The 70-acre, 293,000-sf industrial park was the long-time home of Alcoa’s Aluminum Works but has been nearly vacant since its closing in 1970. The City of New Kensington purchased the park for $8 million in May 2018 and plans to invest $12 million into modernizing the facilities to create an advanced manufacturing center.

Outlook

Year-to-date leasing activity will lag behind 2017 as larger users opt to buy and build on the few remaining pad-ready parcels currently available. Absorption should improve substantially by year-end as current projects are delivered.

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Author: Edie Hartman

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