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HAZLETON, PA-Wilkes-Barre, PA-based Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services breaks ground here for a 214,794-sf manufacturing and distribution facility for Atlanta-based Simmons Co., the nation’s second largest mattress manufacturer. Bob Besecker, VP and director of leasing for Mericle, tells GlobeSt.com the estimated construction cost, including all fit out, is $10 million or about $46.56 per sf.

The building is on a 21-acre parcel on Oak Ridge Road in the Humboldt Industrial Park. It includes 15,000 sf of office space, and the facility is expandable by an additional 127,032 sf. Mericle will own the build-to-suit property and lease it to Simmons long term at an undisclosed rental rate.

The site is a Pennsylvania SelectSite that has a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone (KOEZ) designation. Under KOEZ, all state and local taxes are forgiven through 2013.

Mericle competed with developers in 35 other Pennsylvania counties and at least two other states for the project. The contract was obtained in cooperation with Governor Ed Rendell’s action team; CAN DO, which is the economic development arm of the Hazleton Chamber of Commerce; and officials of Luzerne County, Hazle Twp., the area school district and local community college and Simmons.

“It’s that special collaboration between the public and private sectors that has proven time and again to be the partnership that makes a difference in northeastern Pennsylvania,” says Mericle’s president, Robert K. Mericle.

Approximately 250 people will be employed at the Hazleton facility, which is expected to reach completion on February 15, 2004. Until then, Simmons is leasing a 32,000-sf base in Hazleton from Mericle for an undisclosed price. Simmons has 18 plants throughout the US and Puerto Rico.

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