(To read more on the industrial market, click here.)

LA PORTE, TX-In a first-time joint venture, ML Realty Partners and National Property Holdings plan to build four million sf on 295 acres at the Port of Houston. The $200-million Port Crossing Commerce Center development breaks ground in the summer with two spec buildings totaling 631,000 sf.

As plans unfold for the first phase, the developers are putting finishing touches to more than 550,000 sf of build-to-suit facilities. The build-to-suit deals should close within two months. The JV started to take down the land, owned by several parties, in January. The acreage, eyed for a four- to six-year build-out schedule, fronts Texas 146 between Barbours Cut Terminal and Bayport Terminal. With all tracts now in hand, the JV plan is to start delivering the spec space in first quarter 2007.

“The fact that there is already a potential of 550,000 sf of build-to-suit without formal marketing at this point tends to justify the need for this park,” Michael Luecht, president and CEO of the Chicago-based ML Realty Partners, tells GlobeSt.com. The per sf quotes are being kept under wraps at this stage. CB Richard Ellis’ Billy Gold is leading the preleasing and sales front. Meanwhile, decisions about the architect and general contractor are pending.

Luecht says ML Realty prefers developing properties on its own, but the joint venture with Houston-based National Property Holdings was compelling for several reasons. “National Property did an extraordinary job of procuring the land, and with our industrial business park experience, we felt it was a logical fit on both sides,” Luecht says. Both companies also are extremely well capitalized, he adds.

“The Port of Houston is having significant growth in container and cargo volume,” Luecht says. “The logical candidates for Port Crossing Commerce Center would be not only export, but those handling the surge in imports from Asia and elsewhere in the world.”

Luecht says the option always exists to expand the partnership if other opportunities arose. But for now, the JV is focused on the booming east area of Houston and the first development venture, Port Crossing Commerce Center.

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