USMCA boosts demand for industrial space near border

A Boston-based real estate firm recently purchased a 24-acre industrial park some 3 miles from the Port of Houston and 200 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

It is the latest in a string of transactions involving industrial, logistics and warehouse space in the Texas-Mexico border region in recent weeks.

President Donald Trump’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has boosted confidence in real estate investments in the area, industry professionals said.

“The USMCA gives certainty to investors because it provides preferential access to a market with clear rules,” according to Claudia Avila, director of the Mexican Association of Private Industrial Parks (AMPIP), in the news outlet Expansion. “Those who had projects on hold feel comfortable because most of the companies that are installed in industrial parks are export manufacturing and require that the spaces provide them with facilities to operate in the long term.”

One of the latest transactions is the acquisition of the East Belt Business Park, a four-building, Class A industrial project in southeast Houston totaling 350,000 square feet.

Boston-based TA Realty is acquiring the property. East Belt Business Park consists of two rear-load and two cross-dock buildings that include 20- to 24-foot clear heights, 114 dock-high doors, 120- to 180-foot truck court depths and 510 parking spaces. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. According to Harris County property records, the land had a 2019 appraised value of almost $26 million.

JLL marketed the property on behalf of the seller, a fund advised by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing.

“East Belt Business Park is a unique property that caters to tenants of varying sizes in a market focused on big box development,” JLL Managing Director Trent Agnew said in a statement. “This was a highly competitive process that proved investor demand for high-quality product with upside potential.”

The park is listed as 94% leased out and includes tenants such as Axion Logistics and international shipping companies such as Wrist Ship Supply.

The park is also 3 miles from the Port of Houston, a 25-mile-long waterway that services 8,200 vessels and 215,000 barges each year. East Belt Business Park was developed in two phases in 2003 and 2007.

Atlanta-based developer Stonemont Financial Group also recently announced it was building a 540-acre intermodal port near Houston.

The Southwest International Gateway Business Park in El Campo, Texas, will be aimed at boosting cross-border commerce with Mexico, said Stonemont Financial Group CEO Zack Markwell in an interview with FreightWaves.

In northern Mexico, the city of Monterrey has the most activity, with 5.5 million square feet of industrial space under construction, according to the latest report from the real estate data firm Solili.

One of the newest properties in the Monterrey area is the Asia Pacific industrial warehouse developed by MEOR, a Mexico City-based real estate investment firm. The park had its grand opening ceremony on Monday.

The 376,000-square-foot park was developed for almost $19 million and will house an auto parts supplier for Kia and Hyundai manufacturers, creating around 800 jobs.