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PITTSTON TWP., PA-Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services has begun site work on four industrial buildings aggregating more than 1.1 million sf in its new CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park East. All are spec buildings, and the Wilkes-Barre-based developer plans to have all four completed by year’s end.

The buildings will contain 496,000 sf, 254,000 sf, 217,000 sf, and 136,000 sf, respectively. They will join four existing buildings in Phase One, which encompasses 377 acres of the 1,800-acre CenterPoint park. Jim Cummings, Mericle’s VP of marketing, tells GlobeSt.com, “the estimated construction cost of the first seven buildings is about $150 million. The eighth is a 1.5-million-sf distribution center being constructed by Lowe’s Co. on a 130-acre parcel Mericle sold to the home improvement retailer.

The smallest of the new spec buildings will be flex/light industrial, and the others will be designed for logistics and/or traditional industrial use, Cummings says. Market rate for new class A spec industrial space in Northeast Pennsylvania is between $4 per sf and $5 per sf, he says and also notes that these buildings are eligible for a 10-year tax abatement, and the park is a designated free trade zone.

The three buildings that are complete or nearly complete include an 88,000-sf build-to-suit for FedEx Ground, a 128,000-sf flex building in which Lyon Conklin & Co. has leased 32,000 sf, and a 300,000-sf distribution building. The latter began as a spec project, but mid-construction was fully leased to Men’s Wearhouse. As GlobeSt.com previously reported, that lease was valued at about $14 million.

“We are very confident about the ability to lease up these properties,” Cummings says. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries. When Mericle began modest development here near the I-81 corridor in the late 1980s, it was somewhat undiscovered. Now, developers and tenants have descended.” Phase one of the eastern portion of the park can accommodate up to 12 or 13 buildings, he adds.

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