ORLANDO-Area industrial real estate brokers tell GlobeSt.com Lowes Cos. of Wilkesboro, NC plans to break ground in 2003 on the second largest distribution center in Central Florida–a 1.2 million-sf complex to be built for an estimated $60 million near the Poinciana Industrial Park in Osceola County. The company continues to vie with Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc. for dominant market share in metro Orlando

County officials and planning department staffers couldn’t confirm to GlobeSt.com when Lowes will do the deal that would bring 600 new jobs to the area.

“Everybody in the market is talking about this deal but nobody, including Lowe’s, has given anybody a firm go-ahead yet,” a county staffer tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. Lowe’s officials couldn’t be reached by press time.

The project would be the second largest of its kind next to the 1.5 million-sf distribution center occupied by Kmart and built by Orlando developer Robert Mantovani in Ocala, FL 10 years ago.

Area brokers intimate with the venture tell GlobeSt.com Lowe’s is negotiating to buy a 150-acre site from Avatar Properties of Coral Gables, FL, the developer who created the town of Poinciana, FL (Pop. 20,000), 15 minutes from Walt Disney World. The land price is expected to be in the $300,000 per acre range ($6.89 per sf), brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

They base that estimated price on Lowe’s purchase of 26 acres at the northwest corner of John Young Parkway and Osceola Parkway in south Orange County earlier this year. Orange County real estate records show Lowe’s paid $7.26 million or $279,231 per acre ($6.41 per sf) to Deerfield Land Corp., a Tupperware Corp. company based in Kissimmee, FL. A 150,000-sf Lowe’s Home Improvement retail store is scheduled to open at the site in spring 2003.

George D. Livingston Jr., president of the Central Florida chapter of NAIOP and founder/chairman of Maitland, FL-based NAI Realvest Partners Inc., tells GlobeSt.com he sees warehouses as “good opportunities for investment now and for development in the future as the sector improves.”

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