IL Route 3 Corridor Seeing New Generation of Investment

A 60-mile section of Route 3 that runs parallel to the Mississippi River in Illinois on the eastern side of the bi-state St. Louis region anchors an industrial corridor that is one of the premier manufacturing logistics hubs in the Midwest.

With exceptional multimodal infrastructure that supports complex and integrated manufacturing operations, this corridor continues to evolve and grow by repurposing vacant industrial sites through infrastructure investment and public-private partnerships. It is home to more than 6,000 businesses, or about 100 businesses per mile, making it a significant economic engine for the St. Louis region.

The final virtual session of FreightWeekSTL 2021 explored the unique ecosystem of this corridor that is sparking new industrial development interest, revealing that it is a hidden gem.

Steve Zuber, SIOR, CCIM, Principal with Barber Murphy, a commercial real estate brokerage firm that recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary, said the corridor’s long history of industrial businesses operating along its path has set the stage for the reinvestment that has been occurring and for future revitalization.

“I’ve always seen it as a diamond in the rough,” said Zuber. “As I look at the landscape today, I see the majority of these legacy properties have either been demolished, repurposed or redeveloped, and the region is really starting to sparkle.” He pointed to the former stockyards area in Fairmont City and East St. Louis, which have been seeing a lot of activity in the wake of the opening of the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, which really opened up that area in Southwestern Illinois to development. Zuber said most of the premium ground along Exchange Avenue has been purchased and is home to Newman Carriers, Tank Trailer Cleaning, Aspen Waste, House B Truck Sales, Apex Recycling and others.

Fifteen years ago, you couldn’t give that ground away. Now it’s being sold at a premium of two dollars per square foot. Companies like Bailey Foods, Illinois Electric Works, Quality Rail and Custom Steel have all taken advantage of some of the older legacy buildings and repurposed those buildings for more modern-day use,” Zuber said. “When you look at America’s Central Port, which has invested millions of dollars in this former military base, repurposing old buildings and adding container-on-barge operations, they’re at maximum capacity right now.”

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Article Published by Illinois Business Journal, May 29, 2021