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CHICAGO-As 180 pieces of machinery and over 300 operators work furiously six days a week transforming the former Joliet Arsenal into a huge transportation and industrial park, CenterPoint Properties executives are working equally hard to sell the project. The trust’s COO says that CenterPoint is in negotiations to locate a large power plant at the 2,242-acre site, while strong interest in about 4 million-sf of industrial space is being shown.

“We don’t like to count our chickens before they’re hatched,” says COO Mike Mullen. “But my 25 years in the real estate business tell me that we have interest in 4 million-sf that is a lot more than just kicking the tires.” Mullen also says that the trust is in negotiations with power plant developers to locate a large generating station at the former Joliet Arsenal, which has been renamed CenterPoint Intermodal Center.

While Mullen would not name the parties with whom he is negotiating, he did say that one of the potential tenants is interested in consolidating its several area locations into a two million-sf campus-style development. CenterPoint has already signed DSC Logistics, a big distributor, to a 1.1 million-sf development that will likely cost over $40 million to build. DSC will be breaking ground in the spring on the high-grade perishables distribution facility.

The industrial park will comprise over 17 million-sf when complete in 12 years. The four million-sf in negotiation is in addition to the 1.1 million-sf already signed with DSC Logistics, according to Mullen.

Mullen also says that two power plant developers are competing to locate a 500 megawatt to 1,000 megawatt generating plant at the site. “This is simply an outstanding site for power generators,” says Mullen. “The natural gas, grid access and water cooling are all right here.” It is indeed likely that interest in the site from power generators is keen. Demand for power is growing, while at the same time it is becoming increasing difficult to find sites for plants. Libertyville, IL just rejected a $100-million proposal by Indeck Energy Services, while Ameren Corp.’s proposed Elgin, IL plant is running into opposition. The former Joliet Arsenal is not located near any residential developments.

Phase One of CenterPoint Intermodal Center is scheduled to be complete by 2002. Phase One comprises the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway’s 616-acre state-of-the-art intermodal, transload, storage track and container railyard facilities, the DSC Logistics facility and construction of the infrastructure needed to support future development.

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