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AUSTIN-In one fell swoop, Austin will get one of its heaviest hits this year as 700,000 sf of manufacturing space gets ready to come to market.

With only 30 of more than 1,000 workers still employed, Multek has hired the Morse Co. in Dallas to hawk its eight-building, 70-acre complex at 3300 W. Braker Lane, which some classify as being in the north submarket and others, the far northwest. No asking price has been set and no use in particular is being promoted for the marketing activity, which will be aggressively rolled out in the coming weeks, Scott Jessen, Morse principal, tells GlobeSt.com. The scaled-back workforce is in the process of boxing up what remains of the operation and shipping it to other locations of owner Flextronics International Ltd., headquartered in Singapore.

As the economy’s downturn accelerated, contract manufacturers such as Multek have closed their Austin operations, wiping out more than 3,000 jobs overall since early this year. Multek’s customers have included Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Lucent Technologies and Motorola Inc. All have run into deep trouble, posting financial losses and cutting jobs.

Flextronics is the second-biggest contract manufacturer behind Solectron Corp. of Milpitas, CA. Solectron has left 400,000 sf of office, manufacturing and warehouse space at the Domain, situated at 11400 Burnet Rd., and is to give up its last 140,000 sf at the end of the month–all being marketed by Austin’s Endeavor Real Estate Group. Another 65,000 sf of contract manufacturing space from San Jose, CA-based Sanmina Corp. will be added with October’s exit of 15508 Bratton Lane in the city’s far north submarket.

As of June 30, the north submarket boasted a 97% occupancy in industrial, bulk, manufacturing and warehouse space, according to a midyear report from NAI/Commercial Industrial Properties Co. The area has 7.3 million sf with another 349,600 sf under construction. Citywide, the occupancy rate for 17.5 million sf of that kind of space is 94% with 1.4 million sf under construction.

Jessen says the Flextronics complex, built in the late 1970s, is outfitted with an extraordinarily large chemical farm, with one tank in excess of one million gallons. The circuit board shop also contains a de-ionized water system and shared power sources with the Domain. The Flextronics property and the Domain formed the 220-acre IBM Corp. complex, but were subdivided after IBM vacated.

“The right user would find a great deal of value in the equipment that’s in there,” Jessen says. But, the marketing plan will be to find a buyer of any type. “We don’t want to box ourselves in and say this is what the use is. We want to keep all the options open.” Those options will include approaching developers who would be open to razing part of the complex and undertaking a conversion of the manufacturing site.

Jessen realizes the timing is off in the market for such a large sale. Still, he’s optimistic. Just how long it could take–that’s a crystal ball question he’s not prepared to answer until he gets a better feel of the types of users that might be out there these days.

The holding is simply excess property from Flextronics’ perspective. The corporation is a month out from taking the keys to a 500,000 sf first-phase project in Dallas. The 126-acre campus at build out will contain 1.3 million sf and is being developed by Catellus Development Corp. of San Francisco and Dallas-based Jackson-Shaw Co. Flextronics holds a long-term lease with an option to buy the site. None of the Austin operation is being rolled into Dallas, says Jessen.

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