ONTARIO, CA-Watson Land Co. has kicked off construction of the 350,000-sf first building in its 32-acre Watson Commerce Center, which stands at the entry to the new 588-acre Kaiser Commerce Center owned by Catellus Development Corp. The building is part of a 32-acre Watson development fronting the I-10 freeway that is part of Watson’s geographic expansion in Southern California, reports Kirk R. Johnson, SVP of real estate operations at Carson-based Watson, which is one ofthe largest developers of master-planned business and industrial parks in Southern California. The Inland Empire project is part of the company’s acquisition anddevelopment program, in which Watson plans to increase its 12-million-sf portfolio of industrial and office properties by 50% over the next five years. The new building is at 13055 S. Valley Blvd. in the greater Ontario Airport Area.The site is bounded by Valley Boulevard to the north, the I-10 freeway to the south and is served by two freeway off-ramps – Etiwanda Avenue on the west and the new Commerce Center Way on the east. The new Watson building was designed by RGA architects and will offer 78 dock-high loading positions, parking for approximately 122 trailers, two 185-foot concrete truck courts, ESFR fire sprinkler system and 32-foot ceiling clearance.General contractor Oltmans Construction expects to complete the building in January 2005. The new building will be part of a 204-million-sf Inland Empire industrial market that has absorbed about 10 million sf to 11 million sf of space in the past year, according to reports from national brokerage firms. The direct vacancy rate for industrial space in the Inland Empire stood at approximately 5%at the end of the second quarter, with an overall availability rate of about 5.5%, down from 6.1% in the first quarter of this year and nearly 9% at this time last year.

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