(To read more on the industrial market, click here.)

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HILLSBORO, OR-Komatsu Silicon America's former silicon wafercoating facility here has changed hands for the third time in threeyears, with everyone but Komatsu making a tidy profit on the46-acre, 400,000-sf property.

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Most recently, Benaroya Co. and Real Property Investors sold theasset for $40 million to Solarworld AG, which plans to invest anadditional $394 million, transforming the property into the largestsolar factory in North America. No broker was involved in thetransaction.

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Benaroya and RPI, both of Seattle, paid $22 million for theproperty late last year with plans to transform it into amulti-tenant property before Solarworld began eyeing the property.Benaroya acquired the property from multimillionaire Raymond Park,which paid Komatsu $5 million "plus other consideration" for thecampus and an additional 48 acres of adjacent undeveloped land in2004. Real Property Investors' Mike McKernan tells GlobeSt.com thatthe sale to Solarworld includes the option for the additionalacreage. The option has six months remaining.

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The facility is located on Northwest Evergreen Road, west ofShute Road. Komatsu began developing the property in 1996 with asilicon-wafer coating facility that was going to be supplied withwafers made at Komatsu plants in Japan and Taiwan. That same year,confident that demand was strong enough to justify it, Komatsubegan development of the $500-million wafer-making facility 12months ahead of schedule. It was preparing to open the plant in1998 when the semiconductor industry tanked. The property was neverput to its intended use, though its office and warehouse space hasbeen partially utilized over the years.

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Komatsu originally listed the property for sale at $80 million.Immediately prior to Park acquiring the property the list price wasdown to $40 million or about $5 million more than its book value.The negotiated sale price to Park was $5 million "plus otherconsideration" that was never revealed but it is believed to haverelated to 3,000 acres in Arizona that Komatsu leases from ParkCorp.

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The sale from Komatsu to Park closed at the end of March 2004.Parent company Komatsu Ltd. reported a $30-million loss on thetransaction. A broker who specializes in the sale of high-techfacilities told GlobeSt.com at the time that Komatsu may haveneeded the sale to close by the end of its fiscal year, which endsat the end of every March. Komatsu's official comment was that theproperty was sold "to reduce and make effective utilization ofKomatsu Group's assets." An industry source says Komatsu received anine-figure tax benefit by selling when it did.

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Park reportedly spent $5 million beyond his acquisition price toclear the property of hazardous chemicals. The bulk of the buildingis manufacturing space, but it does include about 50,000 sf ofoffice space.

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Solarworld will relocate to the property operations andemployees currently located just north of Portland in Vancouver,WA. The company says that by the end of 2009 the Hillsboro propertywill be able to produce solar silicon wafers and solar cellscapable of generating 500 megawatts of electricity per year, makingit the largest solar-wafer and cell factory in the US. Productionis expected to begin summer 2007.

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