HOUSTON-Koll Development Co. and Harbert Management Corp. have joined forces to launch a $120-million industrial development program. The first project will go vertical on 50 acres in far southeast Houston.

The lead project, Ellington Trade Center, will be built in two phases near the intersection of Texas 3 and Ellington Field. Work will begin in April on the first 513,000 sf, a three-building complex that will deliver in December. The second phase of the $50-million project will contain two buildings, totaling 320,000 sf. They are ticketed for completion in 2010.

John Ferruzzo and Griff Bandy of NAI Houston are preleasing Ellington Trade Center. Azimuth Architecture in Dallas designed it and Cobb, Fendley and Associates Inc. of Houston is the civil engineer. A general contractor hasn’t been selected.

Randy Touchstone, VP of Dallas-based Koll Development Co., says Koll and its Birmingham, AL-based partner are looking at development sites throughout the Southeast and Southwest, but says none of the deals is far enough along to discuss at this time. “We should be able to get four or five started this year,” he tells “If all goes well, we may be able to expand beyond that.”

Touchstone says ideal sites are near ports, which is why the partners are targeting sites along the Gulf Coast. Frontage on major thoroughfares also is a good draw as are strong economic markets.

Touchstone says the JV’s industrial development program is designed for short-term holds. “It’s set up to build them, lease them up, then sell them,” he says.

Koll Development is no stranger to equity partnerships like the one formed with Harbert. Koll has been aligned since late 2005 with Parsippany, NJ-based Prudential Real Estate Services for an office development program. The JV last year expanded its Intellicenter program after building the estimated 150,000-sf class A projects in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.

Touchstone says the industrial program isn’t much different from the $200-million Intellicenter office program. “The similarity is that we got in step with a financial partner and laid out a strategy similar to the Intellicenter program,” he explains.