Chicago metro second for industrial development over last decade

The Amazon Fullfillment Center built in Joliet, Illinois, is shown. The Chicago metro again ranked second nationally for industrial development over the last decade, but only a fraction of those projects come to Northwest Indiana.

Tony V. Martin, The Times

The Chicago metro ranked second nationally in industrial development over the last decade, but only a fraction of that investment has been trickling into Northwest Indiana.

Commercial Cafe, a commercial real estate website, reported in a recent study that the Chicago metropolitan area, of which Northwest Indiana is a part, trailed only the Inland Empire in California in new industrial development nationwide since 2007.

"The top market in the Midwest and the second market nationwide with the largest amount of square feet added after Inland Empire (131.7 million square feet) is Chicago – 108.7 million square feet in 322 buildings," Commercial Cafe said in a news release.

Commercial Cafe said Chicago's industrial market was "firing on all cylinders" and expecting to add another 5.5 million square feet by the end of the year.

Much of the development has been taking place in Romeoville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, DeKalb, Minooka, Wilmington, and Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie in Wisconsin. 

"The most active city in the market development-wise is Joliet, ranking 11th with 12.1 million square feet added in the past 10 years," Commercial Cafe said in the news release. "It’s also expecting 4.9 million square feet to be added to its inventory in six new buildings among which: Core5 Logistics Center, the FedEx Terminal at CenterPoint Business Center and the CenterPoint Intermodal Center at 3901 South Brandon Road."

Northwest Indiana has not been seeing the same boom in industrial construction that's been going on in many other Chicago suburbs.

The Northwest Indiana submarket only has about 39.1 million square feet of newer industrial space, which accounts for only about 3.2 percent of the total Chicago market, according to NAI Hiffman. 

Northwest Indiana added 80,000 square feet of additional industrial space in the second quarter of 2017, as compared to 5.8 million square feet across the broader Chicago metro, according to NAI Hiffman. 

Businesses have occupied 214,128 square feet of industrial real estate in Northwest Indiana so far this year, as compared to 9 million square feet metro-wide. Northwest Indiana has accounted for only 2.3 percent of new industrial leases in the Chicago metro so far this year.


Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.