Busy industrial sector reflects steady recovery.

Along the Seacoast in New England, the industrial sector has been busy during the past 12 months with a number of sales and leases, reflecting the steady recovery of the economy. There is more activity and we are even seeing a new crop of startups in the market looking for space. Buyers have found opportunities to pick up industrial properties at attractive prices and while locking in low interest rates from commercial local banks offering SBA and conventional financing.

The largest recent deal in the market is SigSauer’s lease of a 206,000-square-foot facility at The Pease International Tradeport. The Exeter, New Hampshire-based company is making a substantial investment in building upgrades and new equipment before moving in.

Rochester, New Hampshire, was successful in attracting a new 343,000-square-foot project at The Granite State Business Park. The building is a joint project between Albany Engineered Composites and Safran, a French aerospace company. The building will be located on a 50-acre parcel and will employ approximately 400 workers.

Westinghouse is expanding from its existing base in Newington to an 80,000-square-foot building at the nearby Pease International Tradeport. The company has signed a lease at this high-bay building and is completing renovations before moving in.

Tyco Electronics has moved an operation from Lowell, Massachusetts, to a new, 100,000-square-foot building at its Newington, New Hampshire, campus.

Sustainx moved its headquarters from Lebanon, New Hampshire, to Seabrook, New Hampshire, last summer. The company is leasing the 42,000-square-foot building on Stard Road.

Industrial users have purchased a number of buildings: Lighthouse Manufacturing renovated the long-vacant 40,000-square-foot building on Mirona Road in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Extrusion Alternatives purchased a 25,000-square-foot property in Portsmouth; Spongejet renovated a tired, 30,000-square-foot building on Patterson Drive in Newington; CSMI moved out of a small building in Dover, New Hampshire, and renovated a 30,000-square-foot facility in Barrington, New Hampshire; and Woody Bigos purchased and has renovated the 73,000-square-foot building at 9 Great Falls Way in Rochester for his contract machining operation as well as for a few tenants.

Future growth may be constrained by a lack of existing inventory and land zoned for business. At The Pease International Tradeport, there are only a handful of lots remaining for development. The surrounding towns including Dover, Rochester and Somersworth can offer only a small selection of lots for development.

Existing inventory of space for lease or sale has shrunk over the past 24 months so large users do not have many good options. Dover offers 121,000 square feet of older industrial space at One Progress Drive and about 150,000 square feet of office/industrial space at 121 Broadway. In Newington, Thermofisher is vacating its 140,000-square-foot facility and moving to North Carolina, leaving that building available for sale or lease.

The economic news seems positive overall so I expect continued slow growth for the Seacoast region. That, coupled with low interest rates, should provide the needed capital for expansion and relocation of business to New Hampshire.

— Peter Billipp is a senior broker with Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based The Kane Company

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