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AUSTIN-An Austin developer is betting that development around the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will pick up when the Austin economy turns around.

Developer John Lloyd has bought 250 acres, called Interport South, from a family trust and simultaneously sold an 80-acre tract of flood-plain property to an Austin executive for private use. Joyce Jane Weedman, a land specialist at NAI Commercial Industrial Properties Co., and Royce Lacey, an NAI CIP vice president, represented the family trust. As the initial purchase closed, Weedman did the turn-around sale to the executive.

Weedman tells GlobeSt.com that Lloyd has the odds in his favor. She says the property is among the few Austin sites that can accommodate large manufacturing facilities. It doesn’t have environmental concerns, the land is flat and easy to build on and has high-capacity utilities and redundant electrical power.

“There are literally just a handful of such sites in the city,” Weedman says. “John has recognized that when manufacturers start coming back into the city that this site will be always on the short list and he’ll get his share of users.” She says Lloyd, mainly known for his residential developments, would like to sell the property to a one major user, but will break it up if necessary.

Weedman and Dean Janeff, also of NAI CIP, are marketing the property for Lloyd. The site is off FM 973, just east of the airport. It has access to Texas 71 and is in the path of a state highway project that breaks ground early next year.

Austin industrial property is mired in the same economic stagnation that’s affecting the city’s office market. Vacancy rates for manufacturing/warehouse space are 25% and flex space, 29%, in the southeast submarket, which includes the airport area. The rates were the highest in the city at midyear, according to NAI CIP’s figures.

Those figures reflect the decline in manufacturing jobs in the city over the past two years. In September, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Austin lost 1,100 manufacturing jobs since September 2001 while cargo shipments, another economic indicator, dropped 16% in the past year.

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