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PHOENIX-Before week’s end, construction will be under way on a $75-million business park near Sky Harbor International Airport. The Kitchell Development Co. project will have 750,000 sf of office, industrial and retail space, along with a business class hotel.

Kitchell had 65 acres in escrow since 1999, but closed the buy July 6, paying $13 million to British bank Standard Chartered and opening the door to the master-planned Riverpoint. “This is really the last site available for a master-planned business park adjacent to the airport with freeway visibility,” says Mark Sleeth, Kitchell’s development director. “We see Riverpoint as an extension of the success that has been created at Southbank, which is just to the north of us.”

The 23-acre first phase to the master-planned Riverpoint is scheduled to open in 2002. The project site is located on the southwest corner of 32nd Street and Interstate 10. It will include a 67,500-sf light industrial building, three flex office buildings ranging from 61,000 sf to 93,000 sf and three retail pads. Land is available for build-to-suits or future developments, with sites ranging from three to 15 acres.

“The area around the airport is always in fairly strong demand and it continues to have pretty good leasing activity in that submarket,” Mike Beall, a broker in the Phoenix office of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona Inc., tells GlobeSt.com. “We see this as a freeway interchange site with great access to all points of the Valley and easy access to the airport.”

Riverpoint will be the extension of another nearby business park, Southbank, which is north of Interstate 10 and west of University Drive. That business park has done well in attracting high-profile tenants for office and industrial space and is nearly at capacity.

Riverpoint will compete with the Cotton Center, a newly developed business park at the southwest corner of Broadway Road and 48th Street. That park, which opened last year, has garnered strong demand and a number of name tenants.

Beall tells GlobeSt.com that Riverpoint will attract tenants with light manufacturing and light distribution needs and office tenants looking for flexibility. Although leasing activity had slowed at the start of the year, it has begun to turn around and Beall predicts that by next summer–when Riverpoint’s first buildings are available for move in–that demand will be full flush.

“Certainly there has been a slowdown, but it has been more pronounced in the office market than it has been in the industrial market,” Beall says. “If you were to pick out the healthiest industrial market in the Valley it would be the one around the airport. Wethink the timing is really good to capture that anticipated demand as the economy recovers.” Beall and Jim Wilson of Cushman & Wakefield are handling leasing and land sales.

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