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CHICAGO-Work is beginning on the 28-acre California Avenue Business Center, which will provide 600,000 sf of industrial space on the Southwest Side, an area that is attracting food purveyors to new developments. The area already has HSA Commercial Real Estate’s 524,800-sf Ashland Marketplace and is getting Chicago International Produce Market.

The first building at California Avenue Business Center will be a 185,000-sf structure that developer CenterPoint Properties Trust says is pre-sold under a letter of intent.

While the location at California Avenue and the Stevenson Expressway puts the industrial park three miles from the Central Business District, the development also is benefiting from “every entitlement the city and federal government have to offer,” CenterPoint Chief Operating Officer Michael Mullen told analysts this week.

No state sales taxes are being paid on building materials, Mullen adds, while tenants will not be subject to utility taxes. In addition, demolition of existing structures and clean-up costs are being borne by the city, he says.

“They want to see the project happen,” Mullen says.

California Avenue Business Center, not far from Chicago International Produce Market, which CenterPoint is co-developing with the city and a group of food and produce providers relocating from the antiquated South Water Market. “There has been tremendous interest from food manufacturers,” Mullen says.

CenterPoint plans to build the business park in three phases, with tenants taking space ranging from 75,000 sf to 300,000 sf.

Meanwhile, some produce concerns are moving further east. National fruit and vegetable wholesaler Sonora Produce has leased 62,500 sf at HSA Commercial Real Estate’s 524,800-sf Ashland Marketplace at 3000 S. Ashland Ave., the largest speculative industrial facility constructed in the city. The company joins Anthony Marano Co., which bought 200,000 sf in 1998. Anthony Marano Co. is the largest produce market operator in South Water Market.

“We will continue to market to other produce, freezer/cooler and food users, as well as logistics firms that require state-of-the-art distribution centers and proximity to Downtown Chicago and McCormick Place,” says HSA Commercial development group executive vice president Mark Christensen, who represented his company in negotiations with Ed Wabick of Paine Wetzel.

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