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MARCUS HOOK, PA-Preferred Real Estate Investments, the Conshohocken-based, self-described acquirer of properties “nobody else wants,” picked up the 23-acre former American Viscose plant here in a tax sale for an undisclosed price. This is the third abandoned factory site Preferred has acquired in this area in as many months.

It will redevelop the parcel into a mixed-use corporate village called the Silk Mills, according to Michael O’Neill, Preferred’s founder and chairman. Initially, Preferred will renovate the 350,000 sf of existing factory space into 125,000 sf of class A office space and 200,000 sf of class A flex space. A portion of the overall site is slated for future residential development.

Phase I of the redevelopment is scheduled for completion in fall 2005 with the first tenants taking occupancy next September. The entire redevelopment is expected to reach completion by summer 2006.

Calling this “the perfect complement to our Wharf at Rivertown project in Chester,” O’Neill says, “it provides an excellent opportunity for those who wish to build brand new flex buildings at a reasonable cost…the original historic buildings will create a wonderful corporate headquarters for users desiring to be close to Delaware and the airport.”

The parcel is a designated Enterprise Zone, which makes tenants eligible for economic aid from the local government for job creation. The incentives are in the form of tax credits equal to 20% of the amount invested or up to $250,000 in tax credits per project. Wharf at Rivertown is the former 67-acre PECO power station property along the Delaware River, currently being redeveloped by Preferred into an office, retail, residential and recreational community.

In 1910, American Viscose, a subsidiary of a British textile firm, developed “artificial silk,” later named rayon, here. The facility was completed in 1923. Philadelphia-based FMC Corp., a chemical company, acquired the plant, then called Avtex, in 1963 for the production of cellophane and closed it in the late 1970′s. This July, Rob Florig of Preferred told GlobeSt.com the company had acquisitions of about five million sf under or near agreement and expected to close on them this year. In October, Preferred acquired the 75-acre former Budd auto parts manufacturing plant in North Philadelphia. A month earlier it acquired the 388-acre former Ingersoll-Rand industrial tract in Phillipsburg, NJ. The former is being redeveloped into Budd Commerce Center, a mix of office, distribution, manufacturing, retail and residential buildings. The Ingersoll-Rand property, renamed Phillipsburg Commerce Park, contains approximately three dozen buildings, which are being redeveloped and leased up, leaving about 288 acres for new construction in the planned mix of industrial, office and retail space.

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