PITTSBURGH-Chapman Properties has acquired 300 acres in Findlay Township, near the Pittsburgh International Airport for Chapman Commerce Center. It will break ground in early 2007 for an initial spec warehouse/distribution facility of between 80,000 sf and 100,000 sf, scheduled for delivery by year-end 2007.

At full build out, the center’s plan calls for two million sf of warehouse/distribution space and a million sf of office and retail, according to Hardy Kern, VP of construction for Leetsdale-based Chapman. He tells GlobeSt.com his company expects to reach full build out within eight to 10 years, “depending on market demand.”

With its eye on robust warehouse/distribution activity in other parts of the state, Chapman is developing that component first with a goal of bringing some of those potential tenants, including big-box retailers to Pittsburgh. “We can accommodate users, including build-to-suit clients, with requirements from 20,000 sf to a million sf,” he says. The property also contains six pad sites, including two 20-acre parcels that face the Findlay Connector, which is a six-mile expressway that provides direct access from Route 22 to the airport.

Kern declined to disclose estimated construction costs or asking rent rates. Lou Oliva of the local office of Grubb & Ellis is handling marketing, and a call to Oliva was not returned by deadline. According to a second-quarter report from Grubb, the vacancy rate for class A industrial properties in the overall Pittsburgh area is 6% and expected to fall below 5% by year end. The average asking rent rate, according to the same report, is approximately $5 per sf, triple net.

Chapman acquired the land from locally based Imperial Land Corp. for an undisclosed price. While Chapman builds, primarily on spec, Imperial will continue to market its approximately 5,000 acres in Allegheny and Washington counties to owner/users, according to Kern. The new center would represent more than a doubling of Chapman’s current assets. It now owns and manages more than 2.5 million sf of industrial, office and retail space in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York.

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