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LACEY, WA-The 1,153-acre master planned community was a long time in departing the starting line. Early planning and the project’s first steps were taken by former owner, Weyerhaeuser, which had owned the property since the 1950′s. But Meridian Campus did not exit the gate until 1993—and slowly at that. Then in 1998, with growth north in Seattle hitting record speeds, commercial sales here began to roll. And since, development acreage has sold at a respectable clip—with the events of September 11 failing to stall velocity.

Responsibility for Meridian Campus lies with Michael Massoth, the general manager who was packaged into the deal when Meridian Campus was purchased by Hong Kong-based Vicwood Development Corp. in January 1999. A spokesperson for Massoth’s office says commercial sales have been so strong that the company recently asked the City of Lacey to reduce the size of a buffer to help meet anticipated demand.

One of the two outside brokers hawking Meridian property is Vanessa Herzog with the Tacoma office of Kidder Mathews & Segner. While she says the aftermath of 9/11 affected leasing efforts of some developers, Herzog adds, “We did not lose any sales, and projects’ moving forward were not affected.”

Of the original 271 acres slated for commercial development, Herzog says 98 have been sold. The remaining 175, going at $4 per sf to $5 per sf, are split between 97 acres in Meridian’s industrial section and 78 acres in its business park.

The community’s two largest commercial developers, thus far, are Lacey Properties LLC of Kent and Seattle-based RSS Management. Together, Herzog says the two have developed 350,000 sf in a mix of office, flex, manufacturing and distribution space. Not included in that total are a 750,000-sf Home Depot distribution center–to be constructed by latter 2002–and 15 additional acres under contract and awaiting closing.

Though the master plan calls for 30 years of development, Herzog says, “We’re already about 60% through our development, and at that rate we’ve only got about another eight to ten years to go in the industrial park.”

Also brokering for Meridian Campus is Donald Moody of the Seattle office of CB Richard Ellis. Moody is tasked with selling a total of 300 acres, 16.5 of which are commercial with the balance marked for residential. Moody says the total asking price on that section is $28 million, with $5 per sf being asked for the commercial portion.

Moody says the first two phases of residential development are nearly complete, and Meridian is readying for the third. He says the community’s two golf courses have also found a buyer in Scott Oki, the Microsoft-made millionaire noted for his portfolio of Puget Sound courses and his recent naming, with wife, Laurie, as Seattle’s first citizens.

The CBRE broker says the industrial component of Meridian Campus is running ahead of the residential, “But that’s not unusual,” he adds. “And, with all the new jobs in the area, it’s becoming considerably more positive.

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