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ROMULUS, MI-A development firm known for its concentration in industrial property is branching out into other products and markets because of the weak economy.Ashley Capital of Romulus, which is the southwest suburb that contains the Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport, has agreed to build a warehouse with a larger docking area, and invested in an office complex in Cleveland.

Ashley, a branch of the New York-based firm, has notably been the largest developer/owner of industrial space in Southeast Michigan. Its Crossroads Distribution Center in Van Buren Township, for example, is 1.3 million sf. Most of the company’s other projects run into the millions of square feet in size.

However, Kevin Hegg of the company slow market conditions have forced the firm to be more careful in how it builds, and where it invests.For example, he said the company has plans for a build-to-suit warehouse facility, with 300-foot wide, cross-docks, for Transfreight Ltd. in Brownstown Township.

“Normally, we would do a 100-foot wide cross dock,” Hegg said. “However, this provides us with larger opportunities down the road. The demand for narrow docks is more risky.”

The development is being done in conjunction with a new building for ASW Services, which wanted a 100-food wide cross dock.The two warehouses will cost about $9 million to build, he said.

Also, Ashley Capital has branched away from industrial by spending $40 million and partnering with Galbreath and Co. on the Banc One Building in Cleveland. The building is about 500,000-sf.”This is our first foray into Class A office space,” Hegg told GlobeSt.com. “With our partnering, we were able to close in 30 days.”

He said land opportunities for development sites have dried up. For example, the company has land to develop within a Detroit tax-cut Renaissance Zone at I-94 and Van Dyke, but has no interested parties.”We’re just not finding many sites to invest in,” Hegg said. “We’re getting the opportunityis moving its own office into the Crossroads Distribution Center, near a new build-to-suit project for a company called Repair Clinic, Hegg said.

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