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The U.S. Army lowered its colors at the Joliet Arsenal near Joliet, IL, yesterday in a ceremony to mark the start of the siteÕs redevelopment into an enormous intermodal rail facility and industrial park. A knot of dignitaries, including the Gov. George Ryan of Illinois and U.S. Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, were on hand for the event, during which the Army also deeded a portion of the shuttered arsenal over to CenterPoint Properties, the Oak Brook, IL-based redeveloper of the site.

The project, called the Deer Run Industrial Park, the will be one of the nationÕs largest private developments and, as a Superfund site, one of the largest brownfield initiatives. CenterPoint plans to build as much as 17 million sf of distribution and manufacturing space in an industrial park adjacent to a new intermodal rail yard to be operated by the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. All together, Deer Run will occupy 2,242 acres.

“This was a remarkably complicated process,” Mike Mullen, CenterPoint COO, told GlobeSt.com. “But considering all the different agencies we had to work with, and the countless obstacles to overcome, the process went well. Now we can do what we do best at this site, namely develop industrial property.”

A keystone of the entire project is the intermodal rail facility. Chicago, as railroad nexus of the United States, is already the transit hub of the nation for intermodal container shipping. The new facility will reenforce ChicagoÕs preeminence in that field, and attract distribution companies to the Deer Run complex. “The opportunity to locate close a major [intermodal] distribution complex will be a powerful incentive for manufacturers, warehousers, food processors and other customers of freight transportation to be within the park,” says Mullen.

CenterPointÕs development costs are expected to total about $650 million over 12 years, which will be offset by $200 million in government assistance. The company anticipates that an average of 1.5 million sf will be developed at the site per year, with the first of it ready for occupancy in the spring of 2002.

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