There was a moment in March 2020 at the onside of the pandemic where partners in the Bristol Highlands Commerce Center in Kenosha County wondered whether they should pause the project.
Construction had started on HSA Commercial Real Estate’s business park in early 2020 before Covid-19’s eventual economic impact became apparent. Amid the uncertainty of stay-at-home orders as Covid-19 spread rapidly in spring 2020, its impact on the industrial real estate market at that time was unknown.
Instead of stopping construction in March 2020, the project team after a lot of conversations decided to keep building in Bristol, said Robert Smietana, the Chicago-based developer’s vice chairman and CEO. He recounted that decision on July 23, as HSA Commercial was announcing the start of a third building on that business park. HSA Commercial also intends to to buy another 80 acres to expand Bristol Highlands, bringing it to 150 total acres.
The park’s first speculative building leased quickly after opening last year, and another lease to fill its second warehouse will be announced soon, Smietana said.
“We’ve been successful and will continue to be successful because we had product that was available when it was needed,” he said.
HSA Commercial has more than 2 million square feet of industrial space under construction or proposed along Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and the state border. The company is not the only one acquiring land and building speculative facilities along the corridor this year.
Smietana called the current activity level “sort of unprecedented” for the area. That’s saying something considering the corridor, save for a blip in 2020, has been strong since the Great Recession.
“The spotlight is shining pretty brightly on southeastern Wisconsin and we expect it is going to continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” Smietana said. “A lot of people have discovered the location, the access to infrastructure and the labor force that is available.”
Read more at the Milwaukee Business Journal.