CenterPoint Properties welcomes Milwaukee buildings to the fold

IT'S A PORTFOLIO THAT LIKELY WOULD HAVE APPEALED to Oak Brook, Ill.-based CenterPoint Properties Trust even in robust economic times. But given the recession, an 885,771 sq. ft. portfolio of five infill industrial buildings near Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport proved irresistible. CenterPoint, which focuses on urban and infill facilities, purchased the properties for $29.4 million from CalEAST Industrial Investors LLC, a joint venture of Sacramento, Calif.-based California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management.

Jim Clewlow, senior vice president of investments at CenterPoint, says the company was especially drawn to the stability of the tenants — a roster that includes Archer Daniels Midland, Lockheed Martin IMS, McLane Co. Inc. and Bradley Corp. — in light of the economic downturn. “The credit of the tenants very much appealed to us,” he says. The portfolio was 98.5% occupied at the time of the deal.

With the deal, CenterPoint now owns approximately 5 million sq. ft. of industrial properties in Milwaukee. Overall, the REIT owns 32 million sq. ft. in Chicago, Milwaukee and parts of Indiana.

In other Midwest news, Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of building and paper products, has renewed its lease for a 574,000 sq. ft. regional distribution center in Bolingbrook, Ill., for a total price of approximately $8 million. The length of the lease was not disclosed. Georgia Pacific has occupied the facility, which is owned by Houston-based PM Realty Group, since 1997.

Jim Estus of the Chicago office of New York-based Cushman & Wakefield represented Georgia-Pacific during the transaction. Jason West of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co. represented PM Realty.

Also in Bolingbrook, Remington Leasing LLC has purchased a 253,488 sq. ft. speculative industrial building for $10.3 million from Schiller Park, Ill.-based Northern Builders, the developer of the project. Occupancy of the facility, designed for multiple tenants and located near Interstate 55 in Northern Builder's 257-acre Carlow Corporate Center, is scheduled to begin this month. Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based NAI Hiffman will be the exclusive leasing agent for the property.

Lawrence R. Much, C.L. Botthof Jr. and Eric A. Tresslar of NAI Hiffman represented Remington Leasing in the transaction, and Gregory J. Pacelli and Jack Rosenburg of the Chicago office of Colliers, Bennett & Kahnweiler Inc. represented Northern Builders.

In industrial news from the St. Louis metro area, Carmel, Ind.-based Scannell Properties has begun construction on a $7.6 million, 162,000 sq. ft. distribution center for FedEx Ground in Overland, Mo. Completion is slated for early 2003. FedEx Ground will consolidate distribution operations in nearby St. Louis and Hazelwood, Mo., into the new building. St. Louis-based United Construction is the general contractor on the project.

CalSTERS waves goodbye to San Diego industrial park

SOUTHRAIL EQUITIES LLC, AN AFFILIATE OF SAN DIEGO-based Westcore Industrial Properties, has purchased Southrail Business Park, a 16-building, 224,451 sq. ft. industrial complex in Chula Vista, Calif., for $12.4 million. Sacramento, Calif.-based California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTERS) was the seller. Steve Rowland of San Diego-based BRE Commercial/NAI represented both parties in the deal.

In addition to leasing the properties in Southrail, Westcore will consider selling some of the buildings. In a statement announcing the purchase, Marc Brutten, CEO of Westcore, said that low interest rates are spurring industrial tenants to look at buying as well as leasing properties and that Westcore needs to be flexible to meet their needs. Michael Mossmer of Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Voit Commercial Brokerage will handle leasing for the business park.

Southrail Business Park, which was constructed in phases from 1984 to 1987, registered an occupancy rate of 87% at the time of the transaction. The park is located near a San Diego trolley station. Tenants include Quality Plus Automotive Parts, Apparel Creations and Bay Port Press.

Whitehall starts moving dirt for N.J. speculative building

WHITEHALL INDUSTRIAL PROPERTIES OF EDISON, N.J., has begun construction on a $20 million, 368,112 sq. ft. speculative industrial facility in Carlstadt, N.J. Completion of the building, which will feature 66,864 sq. ft. of mezzanine/office space, is slated for September. The facility will feature 32 ft. clear ceiling heights, approximately 60 loading docks and parking for more than 400 cars. It also will be near the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

Mark McConnell, senior vice president of Whitehall, says his company is confident in the project despite the ongoing recession. McConnell believes the economy will be on the road to recovery by the time the building is ready for occupancy in the fall. The location of the project also is a plus, he says.

The Meadowlands market — located in portions of Hudson and Bergen counties — has boasted a vacancy rate in the low single digits throughout the downturn. Perhaps best of all, McConnell says with a laugh, “We don't plan on signing a telecom tenant.”