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OAK BROOK, IL-Now that the World Series is history, the hottest team in the Chicago market may be CenterPoint Properties Trust’s development group. Not only has the industrial REIT catapulted its development pipeline to 5.5 million sf, it has boosted its land bank to 3,053 acres with a 226-acre buy at Route 173 and the Tri-State Tollway, near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.

The value of CenterPoint Properties Trust’s land bank has increased dramatically in recent years, according to chief executive officer Michael Mullen, but the REIT has no intentions of cashing in its chips. Instead of harvesting capital gains, CenterPoint Properties Trust is entitled to build 26.7 million sf on that land, which would represent 70% of the company’s current portfolio, already the largest collection of industrial property in the Chicago market.

“CenterPoint’s development business is on fire,” said senior vice president of development Michael P. Murphy during the company’s earnings conference call.

The development team’s focus is on Wal-Mart’s 3.4-million-sf build-to-suit in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center in Elwood, IL, which will cost more than $150 million. Wal-Mart, which will lease the 1.6-million-sf and 1.8-million-sf buildings under 15-year leases with options to buy, expects to move into the properties in the redevelopment of the former Joliet Arsenal later next year. “It’s critical to get this done on Wal-Mart’s schedule,” said executive vice president of portfolio operations Sean P. Maher.

In addition, the company recently signed a deal to build a one-million-sf project for Georgia Pacific at CenterPoint Intermodal Center, at a cost of nearly $30 million. “We believe these two transactions validate our intermodal strategy,” Murphy said.

Land prices at CenterPoint Intermodal Center have quadrupled during the last five years, Mullen noted. In other areas where the company has land holdings, prices have doubled or tripled.

The property at Route 173 and Interstate 94 in far north suburban Wadsworth has 1.5 miles of tollway frontage. “We think exciting things are going to happen there,” Murphy said.

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