The availability, or lack thereof, of business-ready shell buildings in the metro Richmond area was the focus of the first in a new series of panel discussions to highlight economic development issues facing the region.
Greater Richmond Partnership kicked off its Investor Forum series last week with a gathering at the Commonwealth Club on West Franklin Street. Partnership CEO Barry Matherly led the discussion along with panelists Brian Felton, a senior director with Liberty Property Trust, and Alan Lewis, a partner with Charlotte, North Carolina-based The Keith Corp.
The speakers cited spec development as important to business attraction and discussed buildings currently available in the area, including 23 buildings in Liberty’s portfolio that total 3.5 million square feet of space. They include the Eastport Industrial Park near Richmond International Airport, and it’s planning more buildings on 95 acres it purchased last year at 5800 Technology Blvd.
Matherly said most companies looking to locate in the area are seeking available buildings rather than sites for new construction.
“Eighty percent of companies coming here want a building, not land,” Matherly said. “And that’s what we are sadly lacking right now.”
GRP plans to hold a different panel discussion quarterly for its supporters, which the group refers to as investors. The group’s website lists 130 businesses and banks as private investors.