WOODBRIDGE, NJ-Catellus Development Corp. has acquired a 290-acre site at Exit 12 of the New Jersey Turnpike, on which it plans to build a massive new industrial park. The seller was not identified in a transaction arranged for the San Francisco-based REIT by Gary McKittrick, a senior transactional partner in the Irvine, CA office of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory. The sale price was also not disclosed.

The site is adjacent to a 25-acre parcel that Catellus had acquired earlier, on which the company is developing a 360,000-sf warehouse facility. The newly acquired site has been approved for up to 3.3 million sf of industrial space, and company officials say they anticipate a build-out of five to seven years and a total investment of about $175 million.

Specific plans for the project have not been released. Catellus officials have given their project a name, however: Port Reading Business Park. “This significantly increases our presence in the country’s third largest distribution market,” says Nelson C. Rising, Catellus’ chairman and CEO. “It’s a large in-fill site located near the Port of Newark and Elizabeth, in a submarket with a low vacancy rate and virtually no new big-box distribution facilities.

“By applying the same set of land development skills we’ve applied at other challenging sites, like our Kaiser project in Southern California, we expect to redevelop the site and create a state-of-the-art industrial park,” Rising says.

While much of the warehouse/distribution activity in the Garden State has been taking place further south in the Exit 7A and 8A submarkets, the region around Exit 12 has perked up in the last year or so, with a number of projects, many of them brownfields redevelopments, in the works. The New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority have started a project to expand the capacity of Exit 12 to handle the new load.

Catellus, which began operating as a REIT at the beginning of this year, owns and operates some 41.4 million sf, mostly industrial properties, in many of the country’s major distribution centers and transportation corridors.

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