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PITTSTON, TWP., PA-Lowe’s Cos. Inc. has begun construction of a 1.4-million-sf distribution center in CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park East. The estimated total project cost is $111 million, and Pennsylvania has provided an incentive package of slightly more than $3.9 million.

Construction is taking place on a 130-acre parcel in the 377-acre phase one of the park, which is being developed by Wilkes-Barre-based Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services. According to published reports, the Mooresville, NC-based home improvement retailer paid Mericle $28.7 million, or about $220,770 a acre, for the land.

The new facility will serve Lowe’s Home Centers in the Northeast and is scheduled to open in 2008. The state funding includes a $1.5-million opportunity grant, $315,000 in customized job training funds and $2.1 million in job creation tax credits from the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, arranged by the Governor’s Action Team.

CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park East is also home to an 88,000-sf FedEx Ground build-to-suit, a 300,000-sf distribution building that began as a spec facility and was fully leased to Men’s Wearhouse prior to its completion, and a 128,000-sf flex building that has just 64,365 sf remaining for lease.

As for the four new spec buildings Mericle announced this May, Jim Cummings, VP of marketing, tells GlobeSt.com that while the largest, 496,000-sf building was under construction, Scranton-based third-party logistics supplier Kane Warehousing struck an agreement to expand the facility into a 744,000-sf build-to-suit, which will be completed by year-end. During site work, a warehouse/office user has entered into negotiations to lease the 136,000-sf building.

Meanwhile, the previously reported 254,200-sf spec building will be completed in 30 days, and site work has been completed for another 217,000-sf spec building. Beyond the four, Cummings says an 84,000-sf spec flex building will soon break ground for delivery in early 2008. He confirms that the market rate for new class A spec industrial space in this area is between $4 per sf and $5 per sf. “We have more than 1,000 acres to develop,” he adds, “and will soon extend roads and infrastructure work for phases two and three of the park.”

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