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Last year was the best for Northwest Indiana's industrial real estate market since 2008, according to one key metric.

The total amount of industrial construction in the Region nearly reached 1 million square feet, dwarfing the amount over the last six years, according to NAI Hiffman's Year-End Market Review and 2016 Forecast. 

New industrial tenants occupied 772,000 square feet last year, including in MonoSol's 300,0000-square-foot new building at Ameriplex at the Port, in Portage. Northwest Indiana had the sixth best net absorption of any Chicagoland submarket, trailing only the I-55 Corridor, the I-80/Joliet Corridor, Chicago South, O'Hare and I-90 Northwest.

Northwest Indiana's vacancy rate fell to 5.55 percent, a decline of 100 basis points from last year, according to NAI Hiffman. The vacancy rate is so low it may spur more development.

"There are currently only two options for users requiring large blocks of space, which have been completed within the past 20 years," NAI Hiffman stated in the report. "With the declining vacancy rate and increasing absorption, more new speculative projects may be announced in 2016."

Developers are now building two speculative buildings, or those without a tenant lined up in advance, that will add another 203,000 square foot.

Northwest Indiana's biggest deal in 2015 was when Venture One Real Estate and DRA Advisors bought a 574,000-square-foot warehouse at the Ameriplex at the Port. They were able to get Logistics Team to lease 40 percent of the building before closing on the transaction.

"2015 was an incredible year for Chicago real estate," Brokerage Chief Operating Officer John Picchiotti wrote in an introduction to the survey. "All sectors continued positive trends throughout the year and indicating more upward growth. They succeeded not by chance like a lottery drawing, but through the solid underlying fundamentals that have steadily built in this market over the past six years."

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Business Reporter

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.