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WEISENBERG TWP., PA-Through its office in Morristown, NJ, Chicago-based Higgins Development Corp. has acquired a 32.2-acre land parcel known as 9750 Commerce Circle from Bethlehem-based Arcadia Properties. The firm plans to break ground this month for a 503,000-sf spec warehouse distribution center.

The land cost was $5.5 million, or just over $170,807 an acre, according to Gerald E. Moore, a principal of Chatham, NJ-based Garibaldi Group/Corfac International, which negotiated the sale. Gene Preston, a Higgins SVP who opened the Morristown office this February, declined to provide GlobeSt.com with an estimated construction cost. “We haven’t signed all the contracts yet.” Preston says the timing is “very strategic” to Higgins and poses an opportunity to capitalize on an expanding market.

Moore confirms the market’s expansion, saying, “within the past 12 months, the market here has returned to its pre-2001 levels, the last significant construction wave, when absorption was about two million sf.” The property has full development approvals for the building, which Preston says can accommodate a single or multiple tenants. Arcadia will provide development and management services, and West Chester-based Norwood Co., which has offices in Allentown and Cherry Hill, NJ, is construction manager for the project, which is expected to reach completion in February 2006.

Moore, Jeffrey Garibaldi, president, and Michael Bertolacci, VP of Garibaldi, worked on the land sale, and Bertolacci is heading the marketing effort. The asking rental rate is $4.50 per sf, which Moore says is in keeping with current rates in the region and higher than a year ago. The Arcadia West Center also contains the 650,000-sf Advance Auto Parts distribution facility. Meanwhile, Preston says Higgins is also about to break ground for a 400,000-sf spec warehouse distribution center in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazelton. It is expected to reach completion in May 2006. Higgins, an affiliate of Pritzker Realty Group, has developed similar properties in the Harrisburg area and in the Lehigh Valley, although 9750 Commerce Circle will be its only current asset here.

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