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OPA-LOCKA, FL-Pasquale Properties Inc. is near to securing the financing for phase-one development of the $300 million, mixed-use Renaissance Air Park at Opa-locka Airport, Grubb & Ellis Co., the developer’s exclusive leasing agent, tells GlobeSt.com.

The Manalapan, FL-based development company could begin site work within the next 60 days on the 178-acre site along Red Road on the west side of the commercial airport.

Details about the financing negotiations are unavailable, but officials with the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department and Grubb & Ellis, confirm to GlobeSt.com the principal parties are near a deal.

“We have a dozen or so lenders chasing the project,” says Rafael Villamizar, a Grubb & Ellis senior associate who is marketing the project along with Eric Person, a senior vice president.

Once built out, Pasquale Properties envisions the development of more than three million sf of mixed-use industrial, office, retail and aviation space under terms of a 55-year base ground lease with the county. An estimated 7,500 new jobs are anticipated.

The project will provide an important economic boost to the Miami-Dade communities of Opa-locka and Hialeah, Margaret Chamorro, aviation department special projects administrator, tells GlobeSt.com. Both communities are home to a potentially large labor pool of low-wage earners.

It also is expected to complement efforts by the Opa-locka Community Development Corp. to develop about 1.5 million sf of new manufacturing space on another 120-acre site at the airport, Chamorro says.

“Both of these projects will provide needed infrastructure–water, sewer, roads,” Chamorro says. “There is not a lot of infrastructure in that area.”

Interest is so strong in the Renaissance project that Pasquale Properties, a partnership of Charles and Joanne Pasquale, expects to begin work right away on 200,000 sf of speculative industrial-warehouse space, replete with 24-foot clear ceilings.

“This will be an inventory building,” Person tells GlobeSt.com “We expect to have the building fully leased by the end of construction.” He says, “We’re talking to several large users that could be single-building users. There is substantial interest on the part of food-service companies and other companies that are not necessarily focused on international trade but prospering from (local) domestic economic conditions.”

Asking rents for industrial space is expected to range around current market rates of $6 per sf, Person says, but the developer is anticipating a competitive edge in leasing negotiations. The project is located in a state-authorized enterprise zone, a federal-authorized empowerment zone and has immediate access to the interstate roadway system.

“The enterprise zone and empowerment zone allow the developer to pass on some very strong incentives, such as tax rebates, low-cost financing, worker-training dollars, which could cut a company’s operating expenses by as much as 25%,” Person says. “Rents are very much market rents, but we don’t have the expenses of our competitors. There are no real estate taxes on the ground. That gives us an advantage, too.”

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