FT. WORTH-Volkswagen of America Inc. will build its fifth US parts distribution center – and largest – on a 24-acre tract in AllianceTexas’ Westport, marking Hillwood’s first deal in about 1 1/2 years at the booming intermodal rail portal.

A groundbreaking is set for Nov. 27 on the 360,000-sf building being designed by Gromatzky Dupree and Associates of Dallas. “It will reopen Westport and begin to generate a momentum there,” Mike Berry, Hillwood Properties’ president, told GlobeSt.com.

Of late, most of AllianceTexas’ big deals have been cut for its Gateway corridor. J.C. Penney’s 1.2-million sf distribution center is the last major construction at Westport, located within the Haslet bounds.

The VW deal also carries particular significance in that it’s the fourth deal in Alliance’s developing automotive market. “This high-end facility really solidifies the automotive story we’ve been trying to build,” explains Berry. Just this fall, Daimler-Chrysler has announced plans for a 130,000-sf office project in Hillwood’s Circle T and Valeo, a components supplier to the automotive industry, has opened doors on a 65,000-sf manufacturing facility in the development’s Advanced Technology corridor along Interstate 35W. In an earlier deal this year, General Motors had revealed plans for a 400,000-sf parts distribution center in Alliance Gateway.

Berry says Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s 735-acre, $115-million state-of-the-art intermodal rail hub has played a significant role in luring VW to Alliance. An estimated 450,000 vehicles per year are being unloaded and loaded onto rail carriers for shipment to dealerships in five states. The carmaker, which has its US headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI, and Alliance have been negotiating the contract for about six months.

The multi-million-dollar parts distribution center will supply parts to 51 VW and 23 Audi dealerships in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and naturally, Texas. It will house more than 85,000 parts and employ 50 to 100 associates. when it comes on line in July 2001. The general contractor is Lincoln Builders Inc. of Ft. Worth.

Berry expects at least two more deals will close at Alliance before the year ends. Thus far this year, there have been 11 land sales and 15 leases executed at AllianceTexas. And, there are several more in the pipeline. “It’s been a great year,” Berry told GlobeSt.com.VW’s other parts distribution centers are located in Jacksonville, FL, Lincolnshire, IL, City of Industry (a Los Angeles suburb), CA and South Brunswick, NJ. This year also is heralding record sales for the carmaker, which has sold 302,017 vehicles between January and October, a 13% hike for the same period in 1999.

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