New LVEDC Report Highlights Population Changes, Development Projects

By Colin McEvoy on September 1, 2020

Sample pages from the Q2 2020 issue of the Lehigh Valley Commercial & Industrial Real Estate Report.

For the first time, the Millennial and Generation Z populations born since 1981 represent nearly half of both the Lehigh Valley and the U.S. population, according to a new report by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

In Lehigh Valley, the population under age 39 is 334,654, representing 50% of the region’s total 674,603 population, according to the latest issue of the Lehigh Valley Commercial & Industrial Real Estate Report.

Released quarterly, the report provides a detailed overview of industrial and office market activity in the region, as well as significant commercial real estate transactions. The new issue covers data from the second quarter of 2020.

The cover of the newest edition of the Lehigh Valley Commercial & Industrial Real Estate Report.

A digital version of the Lehigh Valley Commercial & Industrial Real Estate Report can be downloaded here. Hard copies will not be printed this quarter.

“Despite the coronavirus pandemic, LVEDC has continued to work on projects and expansions that had been in the pipeline before COVID-19 crisis, as well as fielding inquiries about potential projects for after the pandemic ends,” LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham said in the report.

“Economic development activity has continued at a strong pace in Lehigh Valley even in these uncertain times because companies and site selectors know the fundamentals of the regional economy have not changed,” Cunningham said. “On the contrary, they are more important than ever.”

As of the end of Q2 2020, LVEDC was tracking 24 active projects in Lehigh Valley, including 13 since mid-March when the pandemic reached the region. Of those two dozen prospects, 18 are manufacturing projects and six are in distribution.

Together they are expected to create 2,528 jobs in the Lehigh Valley, totaling $1.26 billion in investment, according to the report.

The Lehigh Valley has 126.9 million square feet of industrial inventory, with more than 9 million additional square feet currently under construction. The vacancy rate for smaller industrial buildings is about 3%, and rents have increased more than 8% in the last year.

“After a very short lull in activity due to the initial COVID-19 shutdown, we have seen a dramatic resurgence in industrial activity across all sectors in Lehigh Valley,” said William Wolf, Executive Vice President of CBRE Advisory & Transaction Services, one of several experts quoted in the report.

“Manufacturing and logistics inquiries are extremely active raising optimism that the industrial sector’s growth will be strong through the second half of 2020 and into 2021,” Wolf said. “The activity is coming from large corporations as well as small & mid-size companies, strengthening our assessment that the industrial sector will remain resilient across all asset classes.”

The Lehigh Valley office market currently includes 16.2 million square feet of inventory, excluding medical and owner-occupied offices. The only major construction project in the region is an owner-occupied office project: the new 625,000 square-foot headquarters Air Products is building in Upper Macungie Township.

The report also discusses the Lehigh Valley’s population growth of nearly 4.2% since the 2010 Census, primarily due to international migration. Lehigh County has seen a 5.6% growth, and Northampton County a 2.5% growth, making them two of only 21 counties in Pennsylvania to have seen an increase in population in that time period.

This report also includes a list of notable transactions and leases in Lehigh Valley during Q2 2020, including the $62.5 million sale of LogistiCenter at 33 at 4200 Braden Blvd. The 475,800 square-foot industrial property was purchased by Black Creek Group, a Denver-based real estate investment management firm.

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