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BATON ROUGE, LA-A Chicago developer has launched construction on the first of two phases for a 500,000-sf spec industrial project. The all-in development cost for Baton Rouge West is $30 million.

HSA Commercial Real Estate is developing a 42-acre site that abuts a 250,000-sf building that it bought in 1998. Baton Rouge West, planned for the junction of Commercial and Allendale drives, will have its 275,000-sf first phase deliver in late 2007. In the not too distant future, ground also will break on the 225,000-sf second phase, which is targeted for completion in early 2008, says Brent Garrett, an agent with Beau Box Commercial Real Estate in Baton Rouge, who is preleasing the project.

“We’ve gotten quite a bit of interest, but no deals signed at this point,” Garrett tells GlobeSt.com. The quoted rate is $5 per sf net.

HSA Commercial Real Estate entered the Baton Rouge market in 1998, acquiring a building that’s now leased to the US Postal Service. Realizing the need for industrial product, the company bought the adjoining tract. Garrett says there are no further development plans at this time.

Garrett says demand for industrial product has been on the rise, even prior to the influx from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. “Without question, Katrina accelerated that demand dramatically,” he adds. “We’re seeing, in the industrial market in the greater Baton Rouge area, vacancy rates hovering at around 5%.” He says that the development’s added draw is it’s situated about one mile from the Baton Rouge Port.

Baton Rouge West was designed by Harris Architects Inc. of Palatine, IL. Premier Design and Build Group LLC, located in Des Plaines, IL, is the general contractor.

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