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AURORA, IL-Liberty Property Trust of Malvern, PA and the Sacramento-based Panattoni Development Co. LLC have separately broken ground on a total 1.34 million sf of new warehouse and distribution center space in metro Chicago. The projects have an estimated aggregate hard construction cost of $64.3 million.

Liberty has started construction on a two-building, 800,000-sf venture at its 200-acre, 1.3-million-sf Liberty Business Center in Aurora, near Interstate 88. The $40-million project equates to an average hard construction cost of $50 per sf. The first 600,000-sf spec building, being built on Bilter Road between Church and Mitchell roads, is slated for completion in fall 2006. The second 200,000-sf structure, a build-to-suit for PPG Industries, is expected to be completed in early 2007, according to Liberty vice president Don Schoenheider.

“Over the last few years, Liberty has made a significant investment in the Aurora region,” Schoenheider says. “The accessibility to different modes of transportation and an abundant labor pool, make it ideal for prospective tenants.” He says the two new buildings will be “an important addition” to Liberty Business Center.

In Edwardsville, Panattoni has broken ground on Building II, a 540,000-sf distribution center within the 750-acre Lakeview Commerce Center. The center can accommodate up to seven million sf of warehouse space. Lakeview II alone, at 4015 Oldenburg Rd., is expandable to more than one million sf, according to a Panattoni representative. The estimated hard construction cost of Lakeview II is about $24.3 million or an average $45 per sf, area construction sources tell GlobeSt.com. The center is jointly owned by Panattoni and Logan Development of Logan, OH.

Complementing the groundbreaking of Lakeview II was the formal opening of Lakeview I, a 605,000-sf distribution facility within Lakeview Commerce Center. Spectrum Brands Inc. of Atlanta occupies the space. Thomas Homco, David Ziegler and John Sharp represented Panattoni on the Spectrum lease. Darin Buelow of Deloitte Consulting LLC negotiated for Spectrum. Panattoni Construction Inc. was the general contractor.

New development in metro Chicago’s one billion-sf industrial market has been brisk over the past 18 months, as GlobeSt.com has previously reported. Duke Realty Corp. of Indianapolis recently leased its 805,000-sf spec-built warehouse at Park 55 near Interstate 55 in Romeoville to Kimberly-Clark Global Sales Inc. San Francisco-based AMB Property Corp. has a $26-million warehouse facility under way near O’Hare International Airport.

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