The Search for Warehouse Space Around Boulder: 8 Things to Consider

by Market Real Estate | Oct 24, 2018 |

Industrial, light industrial, office flex, warehouse: these are all terms used for some of the most in-demand real estate we've seen in recent years. If you are looking for industrial space, it is hard to find much space at all, let alone the perfect fit. See below our list of eight things to consider as you begin your search.

1. Loading: Dock vs Drive-In

A dock is an elevated platform that a truck may back up against for loading and unloading. It is most useful for warehouses designated for shipping and receiving. If you don't have a dock, loading and unloading will require a forklift and add to your effort. Keep in mind that docks can be more challenging to find if this is something you need.

In other cases, some businesses need a drive-in or grade level door, which is like a big garage door. They allow for moving vehicles, equipment and other bulky items in and out of the space with ease. It is a common need for gyms, automotive businesses, or anyone moving bulky equipment to and fro, but not on a delivery truck.

2. Clear Height and Clear Span

Clear height indicates the vertical clearance of your industrial space and can matter depending on your needs. A standard clear height is about 14' to 18', higher spaces can be found but are rare and in high demand. Higher clear heights allow for higher racking (i.e. pallet racking, the rack system that you use to store your materials) and more efficient storage of shipped or received materials. When you can rack high, you require less square footage.

Clear span is the amount of space across a warehouse that is not obstructed by vertical support, like columns. Think of it like the width of your camping tent, which is not obstructed by a pole in the middle. Companies often need a particular clear span for the storage and layout of large or particular objects within the space. An example would be an indoor volleyball company that needed enough clear span to fit a court without a beam in the way. 

3. Electricity

How much power you need can markedly drive your search for an industrial property. When it comes to power, consider amps, wires, and voltage. 200 amps is the standard available in most industrial spaces. Some buildings offer dual-phase power (2 wires) while others offer 3-phase power (3 wires), the latter being much stronger but not available in all buildings. Those wires combine with voltage, which can range from 208V to 480V and more. Also important to note is whether your space has a dedicated electric panel. Occasionally, a panel will be located inside a neighbor's unit, posing an inconvenience should you need access.

Note that you can apply for more power with your utilities provider (in most of Boulder County this is Xcel; in Longmont, it is the city). Most power constraints are related to the transformers servicing that building. If a transformer can accommodate additional power, an appeal for more power may be straight forward (but leave yourself plenty of time). However, if the power simply isn't available, you may have to prove your need for power and fund the upgrade to the transformer which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

4. Office Space

In a typical industrial space, 10-20% will be built out for office. If you need more office space you can always build out more, but plan on some extra upfront costs.

5. Location

So where are all these industrial buildings? In Boulder, most all industrial zones are outside of the downtown core to the east of Foothills parkway. Colorado Technology Center located in Louisville has a cluster of industrial buildings. Longmont offers the least expensive warehouse space in Boulder County, In the past decade, many industrial buildings in Boulder County were taken up by the oil and gas industry, breweries, and marijuana grow facilities, causing record low vacancies for industrial space. Recently, we're seen this dynamic loosen some. The number of new breweries has leveled out some while the marijuana industry seems to have occupied all possible spaces (when you consider constraints like zoning, proximity to schools, and licenses available).

6. Outdoor Storage Space

Some businesses, like landscaping companies or building contractors for example, have fleets of vehicles and equipment that require outdoor storage. In Boulder, it is challenging to find outdoor storage space because we are limited by space in general. Even the Colorado Technology Center technically does not allow any outdoor storage unless it is hidden out of site behind a building. If yard space is your need, your best option is to look east or at places outside of town.

7. Parking

Industrial buildings have some of the lowest parking allotments as they are set up to accommodate more wares than workers. This is a challenge for the flood of office and retail businesses moving into industrial and flex industrial spaces. If you have a heavy parking need, plan for a longer search time as this can be a big constraint.

8. Internet

Finally, because warehouses are frequently located in more rural places away from city centers, they occasionally do not have access to high speed internet. Alternative providers like Satellite can fill the void but sometimes cost more and require a bit of infrastructure.


As always there are many factors to consider as you weigh your needs with your budget. We are just a phone call away if you are looking for clarity in the chaos.

303-444-4888. Any time, folks.

Written by Market Real Estate