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ROCHELLE, IL-It wasn’t too long ago that Interstate 39 was off the Chicago industrial market radar screen. With the expected completion this year of a $181-million intermodal facility for the Union Pacific railroad, that is rapidly changing.

Having teamed with Wisconsin-based Black Earth, LLC, The Alter Group is poised to launch a 200-acre, $100-million industrial park this town about 80 miles from Chicago. The Skokie-based developer is in talks with prospective tenants who may take the first buildings in what eventually could be a three-million-sf industrial park.

“The landscape is changing because of this intermodal business,” says Alter Group SVP Patrick E. Gallagher.

The boundary of Chicago’s industrial market has moved beyond Joliet with CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Elwood. Likewise, it is fast-forwarding westward with another intermodal facility being developed by CenterPoint Properties Trust.

Black Earth began acquiring land here about two years ago, Gallagher says. “They acquired land as a land investment for them,” Gallagher tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re bringing our development expertise to the table.”

The Interstate Transportation Center will have rail access not only to the Union Pacific, but the Burlington Northern Santa Fe as well. In addition, the site is near the crossroads of interstates 39 and 88, which puts trucks within a day’s drive of 55% of the U.S. population.

In an attempt to bypass city and suburban traffic congestion, logistics companies are eyeing the north-south Interstate 39, Gallagher adds.

While the location makes industrial development a good bet, The Alter Group is not ready to gamble with speculative projects. “It’s clearly our intention to pursue build-to-suits as our foremost marketing strategy,” Gallagher tells GlobeSt.com. “To build specs in Rochelle today, we don’t know how deep the market is yet.”

That will become apparent later this year, Gallagher explains, once the new intermodal facility begins lifting containers.

The Alter Group also has an option to acquire another 87 acres. However, the 200-acre property is large enough to handle nearly three million sf of warehouse and distribution center space.

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