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Trammell Crow Co. has signed its first tenant for Expo 7, a 104,600-sf office/industrial building under construction in southeast Austin.

Trammell Crow officials told GlobeSt.com Monday that Van Merkel Inc., an Austin-based manufacturer of gourmet baked goods, is leasing 50,000 sf in the 100-acre Expo Business Park at Burleson Rd. and Stassney Lane.

Better known as The Chippery, Van Merkel was founded some 15 years ago. The Chippery, which has multiple locations throughout Austin, is known for its fresh-baked goods and extra-large cookies. The space will be used as a main production facility. The office/warehouse structure tentatively is slated for a December completion.

Van Merkel officials anticipate moving Jan. 1 from its existing plant at 6406 Burleson Rd. The company plans to add two frozen gourmet production lines with the extra space.

Expo Business Park currently contains about 240,000 sf of office/industrial space. TCC’s industrial division Expo 7 and the 85,600-sf Expo 6 as speculative projects, saying they had confidence in the strength of Austin’s industrial market. Chad Marsh, TCC vice president of development, says the spec industrial project was initiated because of what they felt was a shortage of available warehouse space in the southeast market.

The Austin real estate market has absorbed nearly 1 million sf of industrial space during the first six months of this year, according to The Source, a commercial real estate report compiled by the Austin office of NAI/Commercial Industrial Properties. While the bulk of the space was taken in north Austin, the city’s southeast section has absorbed some 173,000 sf of flex and R&D space while experiencing a 55,000-sf negative growth in the manufacturing/warehouse sector.

Of the more than 15.6 million sf of industrial space currently in Austin, the southeast section has 2.5 million sf, the second highest amount in the area.

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