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AUSTIN, TX-A 1980s-built R&D facility will have a new life thanks to a $14.6 million sale. Chemical company Sasol North America Inc., headquartered in Houston, unloaded its 131,818 sf vacant facility to Leander Independent School District, which will use the property for a new elementary school.

“This was a very unique structure and a specialized facility because it involved a lot of R&D and lab space,” comments J. Holmes Davis, IV, senior vice president with Binswanger Co.’s Dallas, TX office. Davis, who represented Sasol in the deal, adds that the facility at 12024 Vista Parke Dr., which consists of multiple buildings, had been on the market through a different brokerage house for approximately two years before ending up on Binswanger’s doorstep.

Davis tells GlobeSt.com that part of the challenge in disposing of the late-1980s-built Austin property was that Sasol hadn’t actually vacated the premises until about a year ago. “That hampered the sales efforts a little,” he acknowledges.

Also impacting the facility’s sale was sluggish demand for industrial product. But with a recent turnaround in the industrial market, offers started coming in. “We’ve been starting to see quite a bit of activity in the market during the past six to eight months,” Davis says. “With Sasol, we started seeing a lot of play from different parts, including people who wanted leases.”

He goes on to say that the Leander School District, which was represented by Jim Bowles with Summit Realty Inc.’s Dallas office, got the nod for acquisition because it wanted the entire 40-acre campus, rather than just one or two buildings. It’s uncertain when renovations will begin or what they will entail, but the school district reportedly would like the facility up and running by fall 2007.

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