I have often written about technology changing the mix and supply in office space. Almost every business needs less of it due to reduced storage needs, employees working from home and word processing replacing secretaries.

Another trend to watch is an increased demand for industrial space. A mega-influence driving this trend may be the increased availability of cheap, reliable energy in the US due to innovations in the extraction of oil and gas, like fracking.

Automation, like robotics, also make manufacturing in the US competitive. Human labor, no matter how cheap, cannot compete with machines. Machines run just as well here as they do in China.

More immediately, consumer spending in the US is picking up. According to real estate blog, GlobSt.com, several factors point to a more robust consumer economy.

Unemployment is at 5.6 percent, roughly full employment. And consumers are getting a cost-of-living bonus with the recent sharp drop in gasoline cost (there’s that cheap energy benefit again).

Only this time, consumers aren’t running to the stores and creating a demand for retail space, at least not totally. They are ordering online, creating a demand for order fulfillment space, ie industrial space. For example, Amazon has plans to build two centers within driving distance from St. Pete, one in Hillsborough and another in Polk County.

St. Pete is already showing the changing urban environment. Look at downtown. No new offices space, but tons of new apartments and condos. Along with them, tons of new restaurants and basic needs consumer businesses like dry cleaners, hair and nail salons, FDX/UPS store fronts, etc. But a department store or big box retail of any kind? I can’t remember when I’ve heard that kind of talk.