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DALLAS-The New York City-based Scholastic Distribution Services has pumped some promise into an Arkansas town coping for a year with a vacant 497,200-sf distribution center. Scholastic takes the keys for a little more than $14.1 million, capping about a year of searching for J. Holmes Davis IV, Philadelphia-based Binswanger/CBB’s senior vice president in Dallas.

“It was a long time in coming,” Davis tells GlobeSt.com as he described the complications of dealing with multiple parties to drive a deal that included a lease buyout. Scholastic reviewed 15 to 20 sites in several states in its search for an existing building with all the right stuff. Holmes learned of the building’s availability and went to talk with its owner and developer, Warmack Warehouse LP. Instead of subleasing, Scholastic had its broker start talking acquisition. The building sits at 104 Champs Blvd. on 75 acres in Maumelle, a community on the outskirts of Little Rock, AR.

Davis says Scholastic should be able to move in by year’s end so the distribution center can be operational no later than early first quarter 2003. Some retrofitting is needed for the 13-year-old distribution center built for Foot Locker Inc.’s Champs Sports brand. Foot Locker shuttered the site in 2000 with three of five years left to go on its lease renewal. Hanover Direct Inc. stepped in, signed a 10-year lease and then turned out the lights a year ago on its e-commerce fulfillment warehouse, says Davis.

Scholastic will use the industrial facility for a consolidated packaging and fulfillment center for its continuity businesses. The firm’s nearest distribution center to the Arkansas site is Jefferson City, MO. The town will get 600 jobs in three years as a result of the deal. Scholastic is considered the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, with a lineup that includes Harry Potter, as well as a textbooks line and computer software products.

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