Opus begins largest build-to-suit in metropolitan Chicago Representing Chicago's largest build-to-suit project this year, Opus North has begun construction on a new 900,000 sq. ft., $30 million warehouse/distribution complex for Exel Logistics Inc. in Aurora, Ill. The complex will consist of two centers: a 550,000 sq. ft. facility and a 350,000 sq. ft. facility, and it will be located in the Butterfield Center for Business & Industry, a 900-acre, 17 million sq. ft. business park being developed through a joint venture of Opus North Corp., The Levy Organization and Development Resources Inc. The facilities are scheduled for completion in first quarter 1998.

Emory Hill Management to build super-regional distribution facility Construction has been started on Riverside Distribution Center, a 650,000 sq. ft. warehouse facility in Belcamp, Md., by Emory Hill Management Inc. This facility will have 300,000 sq. ft. available for lease by March 1998, and it represents a $20 million investment in the state of Maryland.

Preston Partners of Baltimore arranged the financing and is handling the leasing for the project.

Strategic alliance agreement signed to redevelop brownfields To better provide industrial redevelopment services for North American brownfield sites, Philip Services Corp. has signed a strategic alliance agreement with Cushman & Wakefield Inc. and Royal LePage Ltd. Services provided will include property valuation and disposition, "highest and best-use" studies, project financing, and tax and other advisory services.

According to the General Accounting Office, the United States has between 130,000 and 400,000 brownfield sites. This, along with a federal tax incentive program for returning these sites to productive use, has created a window of opportunity. The incentive program expires Dec. 31, 2000.

Groundbreaking takes place for Illinois' Diehl Center Two McShane Corp., Warrenville Development Limited Partnership and LaSalle Partners have broken ground on the 101,690 sq. ft. Diehl Center Two at Cantera, a 650-acre mixed-use development in Warrenville, Ill. Ed Hoy International, a stained and art glass supplier, will occupy 75,000 sq. ft. beginning in May 1998.

If you read last month's office news, you may recall a story about seven office deals which totaled more than 900,000 sq. ft. each. Well, there must be some sort of secret competition between the nation's office and industrial firms, because this month there were at least a half-dozen industrial deals totaling more than 1 million sq. ft. each. These deals are as follows:

* Indianapolis-based Duke Realty Investments Inc. has committed to purchase the R.L. Johnson Co. and its more than 3.2 million sq. ft. of industrial properties in Minneapolis, and Duke also has begun five new developments and completed three other acquisitions totaling more than 1.7 million sq. ft. in the Midwest.

* The Shidler Group has acquired a fully leased, 33-building, 1.8 million sq. ft. industrial portfolio located in Los Angeles, Orange and Alameda counties, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz.

* Chicago-based RREEF Funds has purchased a Seattle industrial portfolio, a 99%-leased, 10-property portfolio containing 1.19 million sq. ft.in Fife, Kent, and Tukwila, Wash.

* Security Capital Industrial Trust, Denver, has sold a 1.3 million sq. ft. industrial portfolio, located in Dallas, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Austin and Oklahoma City, to GE Capital Realty Group.

* AMB Institutional Realty Advisors Inc. purchased 12 industrial buildings containing approximately 1.07 million sq. ft. of space within the Cabot Business Park, Mansfield, Mass., on behalf of the AMB Current Income Fund.

* And finally, The Podolsky Northstar Realty Partners has completed an UPREIT transaction, valued at $19 million, for a four-property, Chicago-area industrial portfolio, totaling approximately 1.12 million sq. ft., on behalf of Chicago-based First Industrial Trust.

And this list only includes the larger deals by each company; several of the firms such as AMB and RREEF had many smaller deals as well. That is if you want to call RREEF's 741,456 sq. ft. acquisition of a Northern California portfolio a smaller deal.