SAN FRANCISCO-AMB Property Corp. is searching for opportunities in China. On the heels of $305 million in mostly US acquisitions over the past three months, the locally based industrial REIT has shipped an executive to there to source deals. AMB has appointed executive vice president David Fries as chairman of AMB China Ltd. Fries has relocated to Shanghai and is leading the company’s evaluation of industrial development opportunities at airport and seaport locations in Shanghai, Beijing and the Pearl River Delta, says company chairman/chief executive Hamid Moghadam.”Explosive growth in China’s economy and its position as a world trading partner are creating significant customer demand for distribution facilities that meet international design specifications,” says Moghadam, citing interest from both government and corporate real estate leaders who are seeking partners in the planning and building of China’s emerging logistics real estate market. “To the extent we can identify (opportunities), we would expect China to represent an important part of our expanding global platform.”The new focus was revealed as part of last week’s earnings announcement, which detailed some 2.7 million sf of acquisition activity, mostly in the US. The purchases were made in Amsterdam, New York City, northern New Jersey, Miami and Texas.In Amsterdam, the company acquired Capronilaan Logistics Center, a new 183,900-sf facility in the Schiphol Rijk industrial park, adjacent to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol–Europe’s third largest airport for cargo volume. The acquisition cost was $23.4 million.Prior to completion of the development, AMB fully leased the property to a global chipmaker and leading manufacturer of computer products.AMB also completed during the quarter its acquisition of the IAC portfolio, paying $182.3 million for the 527,000-sf JFK Logistics Center next to John F. Kennedy International Airport and a 410,000-sf distribution center at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The Houston property was built for the global third-party logistics provider Panalpina, while the JFK facility is leased to a series of airfreight and logistics companies, including BAX Global, Exel Global Logistics, Hankyu International Transport, Kintetsu World Express and Nippon Express USA. In Northern New Jersey, AMB expanded its presence there with three transactions: Fairfalls Industrial Portfolio, Fairmeadows-Audrey and the Twin Elms Distribution Center. The acquisitions include the 97%-leased Fairfalls Industrial Portfolio, 27 buildings comprising 889,300 sf acquired for $61.5 million; Fairmeadows-Audrey, a fully leased 31,000-sf building acquired for $2.3 million; and Twin Elms Distribution Center, a fully leased $11-million investment in two buildings totaling 128,500 sf. The transactions increased AMB’s holdings in northern New Jersey by more than one million sf. In Austin, AMB acquired TechRidge Phase IIIA in the masterplanned TechRidge Corporate Center for a total investment of $15.6 million. AMB’s new 290,400-sf property there is fully leased to customers including logistics leaders Ryder and APL. AMB now owns five buildings at TechRidge comprising 921,000 sf.In Miami, AMB purchased for $9 million the Cobia Distribution Center, which is two buildings comprising 229,300 sf. The property has direct access to the ports of Miami and Everglades, and Miami International Airport, the highest ranked US airport for international air cargo.”The industrial market continued to strengthen in the quarter,” says Moghadam. “The Industrial Production index exceeds its June 2000 peak level and has now posted 11 consecutive months of expansion. The combination of increased levels of business spending and the historically low inventory-to-sales ratio appear to be translating into increased demand for industrial real estate. Preliminary estimates indicate that positive absorption of industrial space nationally now exceeds its normalized level of 40 million sf per quarter–a level not seen since year-end 2000.”AMB’s industrial development and renovation pipeline in North America, Europe and Asia totals an estimated 6.2 million sf, with deliveries slated through 2006. Expected investment in the current development pipeline now totals $353.8 million.

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