AMB Property Corp. completed construction of the first buildingin Savannah's AMB Morgan Business Center, which ultimately willhave more than three million sf of distribution space. Crewswrapped work on a 347,000-sf building that is the first specindustrial project in the Southeast built to standards for LEEDsilver certification. "There has been a significant gain incontainerized cargo through Savannah, especially from Asia," saysAMB chairman and CEO Hamid Moghadam. "the Port of Savannahexperienced a 20% increase in containers handled in calendar year2007."

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The development marks the San Francisco-based REIT's entry intothe Savannah market, but it's part of a broader strategy to thattargets major metropolitan areas close to airports and seaports."Our customers are looking for logistics and distribution realestate that is synergistic with their own sustainabilityinitiatives that maximize operational efficiencies," explainsMoghadam. "We are developing that for them here at the fastestgrowing seaport in the United States."

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Meanwhile, Indianapolis-based Duke increased its local holdingsto nearly six million sf with the $30 million purchase of a285,000-sf building in Crossroads Business Park nearSavannah/Hilton Head International Airport and a 504,000-sf fullyoccupied distribution center in the 270-acre port officials plan toinvest $111 million to prepare for future growthInterstate Centre,an industrial park about 30 miles west of Savannah. The companyentered the market two years ago with the $194.6 millionacquisition of an 18-building portfolio totaling 5.1 millionsf.

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The third announcement involved acquisition of a 5,000-acre siteon the South Carolina side of the Savannah River. The buyer plansto use 2,000 acres for development of an industrial park that willserve both the Port of Savannah and the proposed $450 million SouthAtlantic International Terminal Port in Jasper County, SC. Expectedto open in seven to 10 years, the new port is a joint venturebetween South Carolina and Georgia that will be overseen by abi-state port authority.

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According to the Georgia Ports Authority, Savannah is thenation's fourth largest container port and sixth largest automobileport. Last year it handled more than 2.6 million 20-foot equivalentunits (TEUs). Its January '08 total of 223,718 TEUs was 26% abovethe January '07 figure. Its total '07 trade volume was up 16.8%from the preceding year. The port, which has a goal of 6.5 millionTEUs by 2017, plans to invest $111 million in improvements thisyear.

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In response to port growth, the city's industrial market hasexploded. Some 8.5 million sf was completed last year, includingabout two million sf built on spec. Another three million sf isscheduled for completion this quarter. That's a nearly 40% increasesince the end of '06. Yet according to the Savannah EconomicDevelopment Authority, the 12% vacancy rate for December was barelyup from 12 months earlier. Target Corp. alone took nearly 3.5million sf.

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