The difference between commercial and industrial land is mainly one of use. Commercial areas are used for trading goods and services while industrial areas serve as sites of production. Commercial areas are most valuable when they receive heavy traffic from potential customers. Industrial areas, by contrast, benefit from easy and quick access to transportation.
Commercial land is an area zoned for businesses that interact regularly–or at least fairly regularly–with their customers. Included are offices, retailers and service businesses. Most central city areas are made up of dense commercial development.
Industrial land is a zoning designation for areas used for industry. These are businesses that typically manufacture, process or otherwise generate products that are sold to commercial businesses later. Included in the definition of industrial land are factories and storage facilities as well as some mining and shipping operations.
There are some other functional distinctions regarding commercial and industrial land. Commercial land is usually more valuable, and located in places that see heavy traffic from residential areas. Industrial areas, by contrast, are most valuable when located near ports, railroads and shorelines–facilities that make shipping large volumes of goods more convenient. In recent years, this distinction has faded somewhat, according to a study performed by ECONorthwest.