Distribution centers near the nation's top seaports are bursting with consumer goods and other cargo - and that's before the Panama Canal extension opens next spring. Distribution center and warehouse occupancy levels have reached historic highs, while expensive construction and labor costs keep new development sparse in many seaport industrial real estate markets.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled 39 percent of U.S. container imports in 2002, but that figure fell to 32 percent by 2013, according to U.S. census data. They have lost business to competitors at a time when, overall, global trade is booming and imports are rising at all ports, including L.A. and Long Beach. And the ports are losing out to others that can handle larger vessels.
All of the ports on the East Coast "have to get in the game," Vice President Joe Biden said recently, and get ready to accept larger cargo ships that will come through an expanded Panama Canal by 2015.