Liberty takes it to the Maxx with Philly development Malvern, Pa.-based Liberty Property Trust will build a 1 million sq. ft. distribution center for T.J. Maxx, a subsidiary of Framingham, Mass.-based TJX Cos. Inc. Located near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, the $61.5 million development is scheduled for completion in June 2001.

Liberty will develop, manage and lease the property to TJX under a 20-year lease. Located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, the distribution center will be built on land currently owned by the city of Philadelphia and leased by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.

First Industrial, McDonald, Champion move and shake Chicago-based First Industrial Realty Trust has sold one Atlanta building and landed a 504,000 sq. ft. lease in another. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based McDonald Development Corp. has leased 204,000 sq. ft. at the SouthPark development in Clayton County. Not to be outdone, Dallas-based Champion Partners has broken ground on a Henry County distribution center.

First Industrial signed Naugatuck, Conn.-based USCO Logistics to a 504,000 sq. ft. lease at Greenwood Industrial Park in McDonough, Ga. The building is the second built and leased at Greenwood Industrial Park, following First Industrial's lease of 800,000 sq. ft. to Amazon.com. Both facilities were fully leased before construction was completed.

In a deal brokered by locally based Colliers Cauble, First Industrial sold a distribution center to The Harbor Group, Norfolk, Va., for $6.9 million. The two-building, 410,000 sq. ft. development is part of Atlanta Industrial Park Distribution Center, which is located on Bankhead Highway near the Chattahoochee River.

In Clayton County, McDonald leased a 204,000 sq. ft. spec development to Vineland, N.J.-based National Distribution Centers (NDC). NDC moved into the facility during the spring. The building is expandable to 470,000 sq. ft., and is located near Interstate 675.

Finally, Champion has begun construction on a 505,000 sq. ft. distribution center, Eagles Landing TradeCenter 3, at its 112-acre Eagle's Landing TradeCenter Industrial Park, which is located two miles from Interstate 75. TradeCenter 3 is an investment of Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., and is expected to be completed this fall.

Principal, Majestic Realty do big deals in Big D Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Capital Management has acquired a 1.4 million sq. ft. portfolio in Dallas, while Los Angeles-based Majestic Realty Co. has begun construction on a 1 million sq. ft. build-to-suit for Los Angeles-based Mattel Inc.

Principal acquired the portfolio from a subsidiary of The RREEF Funds, Chicago. The local office of New York-based Cushman & Wakefield arranged the transaction. Financial details were not disclosed.

The acquired properties include Parkway Distribution Center, a 750,000 sq. ft. property built in 1975 that is currently 99% leased; Heinz Way I, a 160,000 sq. ft. industrial facility built in 1977 that is 73% leased; Heinz Way II, a 23-year-old, 140,000 sq. ft. building that is fully leased; and 2115 Belt Line Road, a 26-year-old, 360,000 sq. ft. structure that is fully leased. The portfolio is located in the Great Southwest and Stemmons Corridor submarkets.

In Fort Worth, Majestic will build a 1 million sq. ft., cross-docked distribution center for Mattel at Railhead Industrial Park. One of 19 bidders on the project, Majestic has developed 1.3 million sq. ft. of industrial space for Mattel in California.

Locally based SCM Real Estate Services assisted Majestic in acquiring the 67-acre tract for Mattel, while locally based Staubach Industrial Services represented Mattel in the site selection process. Mattel is expected to occupy the development in February 2001.

Carson Cos. looks to the future in Southern California Locally based The Carson Cos. has broken ground on three "industrial buildings for the future" in the Dominguez Technology Center in Rancho Dominguez, Calif. The three most recently begun buildings will total 465,000 sq. ft., and Carson plans to build at least seven buildings totaling 971,000 sq. ft during the next two years. The three new buildings total 210,940 sq. ft., 157,070 sq. ft. and 96,700 sq. ft., respectively.

According to James D. Flynn, president of The Carson Cos., the company's future building will range in size up to 500,000 sq. ft. and include 135- to 180-ft. truck courts.

CalEAST acquisition leads Windy City roundup Led by CalEAST's acquisition of Montgomery Ward's Romeoville, Ill., distribution center, the Chicago area maintained a brisk development and leasing pace as summer began.

In a transaction brokered by Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based NAI Hiffman, CalEAST Investors LLC, a unit of Sacramento, Calif.-based California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), acquired the 767,109 sq. ft. distribution center from Oak Investments LLC, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Opus National. Montgomery Ward, a wholly owned unit of Stamford, Conn.-based GE Capital Corp., is the building's sole tenant and has a 25-year lease for the property. Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle advised CalEast in the transaction. The distribution center was built in 1997 by Opus North Corp.

In Bolingbrook, Ill., Indianapolis-based Duke-Weeks Realty Corp. has signed a build-to-suit lease at Crossroads Business Park with Sylmar, Calif.-based Spears Manufacturing. Spears will use the 403,925 sq. ft. facility as its Midwest distribution center, leaving future expansion space available for a sublease. Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis represented Spears, while New York-based Cushman & Wakefield represented Duke-Weeks.

In Melrose Park, Ill., Barcelona, Spain-based Mecalux has signed a 281,000 sq. ft. long-term lease at Opus North's Melrose Business Center. Mecalux is scheduled to take occupancy in November. The transaction completes lease-up of the 458,620 sq. ft. distribution center five months after its opening, according to leasing agent CB Richard Ellis.

Back in Romeoville, Itasca, Ill.-based AMLI Commercial Properties Trust has begun construction on Windham Industrial Center V in the company's Windham Lakes Business Park. Scheduled for fall occupancy, the development will be a speculative cross-docked facility totaling 450,000 sq. ft.

And down the road in Houston.... A group of local investors led by Charles Iupe has acquired Cedar Crossing, one of the largest industrial parks in the United States, from Pittsburgh-based USX Corp. for $50 million. The buyers plan to invest an additional $500 million in the 15,000-acre development during the next 10 to 15 years. Cushman & Wakefield arranged the transaction and will lead future marketing efforts for Cedar Crossing.

Straddling Harris and Chambers counties, the development is on a peninsula at the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel and is 30 feet above sea level. Cedar Creek is the only Houston complex with two rail-service providers as well as the only complex with Enterprise Zone status, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

FlexxSpace flexes its muscle in North Carolina Through its FlexxSpace subsidiary, Miami-based Adler Group has acquired a portfolio of North Carolina industrial properties from Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods Realty. The 288,000 sq. ft., three-building portfolio marks FlexxSpace's entry into the North Carolina market and increases the company's holdings to 7.5 million sq. ft.

The Highwoods' portfolio consists of Westgate at Wendover, a 137,000 sq. ft. building; Pomona Business Park, 98,000 sq. ft. development; and Spring Garden Business Plaza, a 53,000 sq. ft. building.

Liberty takes it to the Maxx Malvern, Pa.-based Liberty Property Trust will build a 1 million sq. ft. distribution center for T.J. Maxx, a subsidiary of Framingham, Mass.-based TJX Cos. Inc. Located near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, the $61.5 million development is scheduled for completion in June 2001.

Liberty will develop, manage and lease the property to TJX under a 20-year lease. Located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, the distribution center will be built on land currently owned by the city of Philadelphia and leased by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development.

St. Joe, JAXPORT team up for airport development Jacksonville, Fla.-based St. Joe and JAXPORT, the organization that owns and operates Jacksonville's marine and aviation facilities, will develop Woodwings, a 700-acre, mixed-use business park adjacent to Jacksonville International Airport. The $6.8 million deal allows St. Joe to lease and develop 288 acres for up to 50 years with two 10-year options.

JAXPORT and St. Joe expect to use most of the acreage to build bulk distribution centers of 100,000 sq. ft. or larger.

CB Richard Ellis, Douglas Allred in high cotton San Diego-based Douglas Allred Co. has begun development of the second phase of Allred Cotton Center, which the Phoenix office of Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis is marketing. Located in the 280-acre Cotton Center Business Community, Allred Cotton Center's $23 million first phase consisted of two flex buildings totaling 183,618 sq. ft. Irvine, Calif.-based Bax Global has leased 31,000 sq. ft. for five years in the development's first phase.

The $60 million second phase will include seven buildings totaling 460,000 sq. ft.

Upon completion, Allred Cotton Center will include 12 buildings ranging in size from 21,257 sq. ft. to 108,874 sq. ft. for a total of approximately 1 million

Garden State industrial getting better all the time As one of the top three markets, it's only fitting that the 800 million sq. ft. New Jersey industrial market continues to thrive at near-historic levels. While high-tech has had more of an impact in markets such as Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area, New Jersey's central location relative to population centers in the Northeast and the overall economy's enduring vibrance continue to fuel its industrial market.

With virtually no space available in northern New Jersey, industrial development continues to push south to the New Jersey Turnpike's Exit 7A, as the Exit 8A submarket maintains a high level of leasing and development as well.

"I think this last quarter has shown that we really haven't hit the top yet," says Bill Hanson, president of NAI James E. Hanson Inc. in Hackensack, N.J. "The market's still very, very hot."

Hanson points to the local emergence of national players such as AMB Property Corp., Opus East and ProLogis, along with solid locals that weathered the early-1990s - Hartz Mountain, for example - as the driving forces for the market.

According to Cushman & Wakefield of New Jersey, the state's Central and Northern submarketshave nearly 3 million sq. ft. of industrial space under construction. Also, big-box development ranging in size from 700,000 sq. ft. to 1 million sq. ft. has become more prevalent, not only in the build-to-suit area but, in a few instances, in the spec arena as well. During the past 18 months, rents have increased about 5% in areas that have been sluggish over the past few years, and rents have increased about 15% in tighter submarkets such as the Meadowlands.

"There's just no product in Northern New Jersey," says Jules Nissim, director at Cushman & Wakefield of New Jersey. "Rents are escalating tremendously. Development is migrating south for a couple of reasons.

"You have the large distribution centers that absolutely want to be there because of the location and the proximity to Washington, D.C.; Boston; New York; and Philly," he adds. "The north-south corridor is typically more desirable than east-west, so that's why 8A has grown to what it is. There are also those who have no choice but to move where there's opportunity."

The strength of the New Jersey - and the entire Northeast - market led New York-based Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds, an entity backed by Goldman Sachs, to establish Edison, N.J.-based Whitehall Industrial Properties late in 1999. Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds has a $75 million equity investment in Whitehall Industrial. So far, Whitehall industrial has acquired industrial developments near Boston and in northern New Jersey totaling 300,000 sq. ft. The firm also has nearly 1 million sq. ft. in its acquisition and development pipeline, says Michael Nachamkin, president of Whitehall Industrial. The company's goal is to build a critical mass of industrial properties in the Northeast during the next few years.

"We're looking for properties that we can put more capital into to improve them, either for their current use or convert them to higher uses, and to develop new properties on a selective basis," says Nachamkin. "We're not buying long-term leased, fully stabilized properties. We're basically taking the leasing risk, so we primarily like to buy properties that are vacant or leased short-term."