- November 2010: Vol. 22 No. 10

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What’s in Your Portfolio?: The Industrial Sector Offers a Variety of Investment Options

by Sean Fitzsimmons

Industrial real estate houses the often invisible industries critical to the efficient operations of the U.S. economy. Large, single-tenant distribution centers are very visible, and their functions are fairly easy to understand. A case in point is Williams-Sonoma’s newly leased, 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center seen by millions of drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike. If you live in a mid-Atlantic state, you can assume your Pottery Barn furniture will be shipped through that facility. On the other hand, most investment-grade industrial buildings are much smaller than 1 million square feet and are often demised for multi-tenant occupancy. The industries and operations in these buildings vary dramatically, from straightforward warehouses to food packaging operations to electronics assembly, but all are essential to the economy functioning in an orderly way.

There are a number of ways to segment the industrial real estate asset class, but commonalities in building de

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