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The Industrial Spec Sweet Spot – What Tenants Want

Carolyn Salzer • 5/7/2021
To get a clearer picture of the ideal warehouse design, we surveyed our industrial professionals on a number of building attributes including clear height, bay spacing, dock door ratios, and parking.


Curiosity about industrial clear heights and building attributes is a common topic of discussion amongst industrial professionals lately. What height is most sought after by tenants? How high is too high and what is too low? What building design is most likely to fit the needs of typical occupiers? It is hard to know what the market demands in regard to clear height and other modern attributes because over 70% of existing warehouse/distribution inventory was built before 2000 and 53% has a clear height of 27’ or lower. Simply put, there isn’t enough space available that meets the ideal needs of occupiers.

What is the ideal warehouse? 

To get a clearer picture of the ideal warehouse design, we surveyed our industrial professionals on a number of building attributes including clear height, bay spacing, dock door ratios, and parking. Below are the key takeaways of what tenants most commonly want: 

NOTE: Results are based on a survey of real estate professionals on occupier client preferences in warehouse building attributes.

We also surveyed respondents on what other factors are important to occupiers in the current industrial climate. Most of the results reflected the growing demand for industrial space.  

  • Trailer Parking 
    • The most popular response to this question was the need for more trailer parking. According to our experts, some tenants are purchasing land sites to accommodate additional trailer parking for their sites. We expect the demand for trailer parking to continue growing with occupiers needing at least one extra trailer parking space per dock door.  

  • Incentives / Lease Concessions 
    • Secondary to some building requirements, government incentives for industrial facilities are important to bringing new business and to promoting job growth within different counties and states. Incentives can give one property a huge leg-up over another because of the financial savings a tenant can incur. 
    • Additionally, lease term concessions like free rent, tenant improvements and renewal options are a key factor when tenants decide which building to occupy. 

  • Location  
    • Location sensitivity is at an all-time high. Traffic congestion, drive times, labor, utility costs, real estate pricing and supply chain are all critical factors in location decisions. E-commerce companies face an additional hurdle of finding infill space to provide last mile delivery to customers. 

  • Labor Availability 
    • Finding a skilled, sustainable labor force is a growing problem for industrial occupiers, which has been exacerbated by the extreme growth in e-commerce. Available labor is sometimes the most important factor for companies when making location decisions. 


Overall, occupiers are grappling with a general lack of modern industrial inventory. According to Cushman & Wakefield, the U.S. has over 15.2 billion square feet of industrial real estate, with 10.5 billion square feet of warehouse/distribution. Of that space, only 5.6% is vacant and 70% built prior to 2000, over two decades old. With the ever-changing needs of clients, the need for updated, quality space is at an all-time high.  

For more information on the findings of this survey, please reach out to your local Cushman & Wakefield Industrial Professional.  

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