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MILWAUKEE-As CenterPoint Properties Trust reports some big vacancy hits in northern DuPage County and I-55 Corridor, the largest industrial property owner in the Chicago market has found this city 90 miles north along Lake Michigan a profitable submarket. Three of its acquisitions this year have been in the suburbs of New Berlin and Oak Creek, as well as Pleasant Prairie, just west of Kenosha, WI.

“We’re having great success in Milwaukee,” says Chief Investment Officer Paul Ahern. “Milwaukee is a manufacturing town. We’re seeing great strength in that market, with a lot of great activity and deals.”

The properties the REIT now has boast a vacancy rate of just 2%, down from the 10% level CenterPoint was seeing in the beer capital just a year ago, Ahern says. That contrasts to an 8.1% overall vacancy rate in CenterPoint’s markets, led by northern DuPage County, where it has jumped 1.5 percentage points to 16.9%. Meanwhile, CenterPoint has seen a bigger jump in the once red-hot southwest suburbs, where the company’s properties are 15.6% vacant, up from 11.3% a year ago.

CenterPoint acquired a 183,480-sf building at 2900 S. 160th St. in New Berlin in the second quarter after buying a 150,192-sf building at 7620 S. 10th St. in Oak Creek, which is used by the US Postal Service. The Pleasant Prairie buy was a 38,290-sf building at 8100 100th St.

Although CenterPoint declines to reveal individual purchases, its 2001 acquisitions have averaged $32.93 per sf. That average applied to the Milwaukee acquisitions works out to $12.25 million.

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