Garbe knocks on wood

Garbe Industrial Real Estate is breaking new ground in the construction of freight terminals such as, for example, at Straubing harbor on the Danube River. There, a large warehouse is being built entirely out of wood, including the interior fittings. This is a world premiere, since there is no other warehouse of comparable dimensions constructed using just wood. The building equipped with 12 truck docks, offers users an area of 24,382 m² for the sorting, handling, or storing of their goods. It will be inaugurated in early 2025.

The Straubing warehouse and distribution center, built entirely of wood, consists of 27,000 sqm – photos: courtesy Garbe Real Estate

Going by the visuals tabled by the architect, the hall is a real eye-catcher. However, more importantly, it will offer tenants a pleasant working environment since wooden buildings are known for maintaining constant temperatures year-round due to their first-class insulation abilities. Most of the energy needed to power machines or run computers is supplied by solar panels mounted on the building’s roof. This lowers Garbe’s ecological footprint and is in line with the company’s philosophy of embarking on the green energy path and avoiding harmful ecological effects by relying on environmentally friendly materials in combination with efficient utilization concepts.

Unique project that could be duplicated
“The building is very functional, but certainly also somewhat unconventional. We, ourselves, are curious to see what impact the wooden freight terminal will have on employees and customers,” says Jan Dietrich Hempel, MD Garbe Industrial Real Estate GmbH. If the response is positive, he does not rule out further logistics facilities based on the unique Straubing project.

And what about fire protection? “Tests show that wood does not burn quickly over large areas. Insurance companies, therefore, do not demand higher installments from users. In addition, sprinklers are installed everywhere,” says the Garbe executive.

Garbe Real Estate executive Jan Dietrich Hempel pioneers new environmentally friendly construction methods for logistics facilities. 

New concrete – less greenhouse gasses
He eyes a second material suitable for building logistics facilities: CO2-neutral concrete. This is still being reviewed. Yet, initial tests are very encouraging, at least for prefabricated components. They have the same degree of hardness as today’s facilities which are mostly made of concrete. The big difference: “In comparison, a much smaller amount of greenhouse gasses is emitted during the production and processing of the new material,” notes the manager.

Occupancy rate of 96%
The Garbe Group, headquartered in Hamburg, has grown very strongly in recent years. This has spurred its expansion across Europe. Today, Garbe manages 222 properties across Madrid, London, Milan, and Warsaw, spanning 648,000 m2 at a stunning utilization rate of 96%. This positions the developer in fourth place in Europe, measured by its 2023 turnover of almost 4.6 billion euros.

Garbe owns two distribution centers at airports: the Cargo Center on the fringes of Hamburg Airport, and the World Cargo Center onsite at Leipzig/Halle Airport. No other airport project is currently written on the company’s to-do list. “The development of logistics real estate at airports and seaports is generally very complex due to the potentially major influence exercised by the different stakeholders owning the property.”

The interest-rate trap
Founded in 1965 by Bernhard Garbe, the company has been jointly managed by his son, Christoper Garbe, and Jan Dietrich Hempel since 2010. Jan Philipp Daun and Andrea Agrusow complement the executive team. Today, the Garbe Group consists of these five units: Industrial Real Estate, focusing on developing Office and Residential real estate  /  Office and Housing Projects  /  Asset Management for Housing and Office Space  /  Infrastructure GmbH  /  and Property Management GmbH.

Interest trends have a strong influence on the financial performance of the logistics and asset management company. They spur or slow down the business. Currently, experts such as Tobias Kassner, Head of Research and Member of the Executive Board of Garbe, are quite confident regarding the second half of this year. He expects the European Central Bank to cut interest rates come July. If so, financing real estate and logistics projects should become less costly – and lead to higher profits. The Kassner expectation is music to the ears of the entire Garbe Group. Should the prediction become true, it could perhaps lead to more freight terminals being built using wood, similar to the Straubing project. 

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