Are Underwater Warehouses the Future?

(858) 433-0441 scanty@grs-global.com

Steve Canty, Director
GRS | Corteq
(858) 433-0441
scanty@grs-global.com

We were surprised to see images of Amazon’s beehive drone hub patent a few weeks back.

Now the e-commerce leader could further change commercial real estate’s industrial sector with another interesting patented concept – underwater warehouses.

The goods it sells could reportedly be placed into large lakes by several modes of transportation to be later retrieved for shipment. Amazon’s reasoning for these aqua spaces is that above-ground distribution centers are increasingly not sufficient to house all of the products that the company offers.

As part of its patent for the idea, the company will have sound sensors on balloons which will inflate and bring a water-tight container of items to the surface when they are transacted.

This could make sense in certain locales where there is limited land for distribution centers. It’s reportedly a significant issue around the busy ports on the West Coast, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

As interesting as all of this sounds, though, there are a lot of questions still, especially regarding how this could impact commercial real estate, if it all. Could the company use existing bodies of water, and what would be the challenges of purchasing those areas, not to mention potential zoning? If Amazon builds its own artificial ponds, doesn’t it still have to find land for those? Will this have a negative impact on industrial commercial real estate firms, or could they adapt and learn how to build these types of water-storage facilities for other companies?

Of course, there is a good chance that this patent will never come to fruition on any large scale, if at all.

But it’s not a good idea to count out Amazon. The company is expanding its retail presence into areas that weren’t really anticipated on such a scale even a few years ago. The idea Amazon would purchase Whole Foods wasn’t exactly something industry observers predicted even a few months ago.

So, news about patents for drone towers and underwater warehouses doesn’t seem that far-fetched. What would almost be more shocking is if Amazon slowed up its continued innovation and growth.

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