(Read more on the industrial market.)

PARAMOUNT, CA-The Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. grocery chain has signed a 30-year, $207-million lease for all 551,897 sf of a warehouse and distribution center being developed by Irvine-based Birtcher Development & Investments in partnership with Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers of Hartford. The warehouse will serve Kroger’s Ralphs and Food 4 Less supermarkets in Southern California.

The Birtcher-Cornerstone JV plans to begin construction in early 2008 on the new project, which is called Birtcher Distribution Center at Paramount, and to complete the project in the third quarter next year. The lease, believed to be among the largest such industrial transaction ever signed in the US, was negotiated by Bob Crenshaw and Steve Sprenger of the Anaheim office of Grubb & Ellis on behalf of Birtcher and Cornerstone, with David Norrie and Art Rasmussen, co-directors of the CBRE Food Facilities Group, representing the Kroger Co.

Shannon Hondl, SVP of development and acquisitions for Birtcher, calls the deal “an opportunity that the market is unlikely to see again anytime soon because of the scarcity of land in the region.” Rob Giffin, a Cornerstone vice president, cites the “rare opportunity to develop an industrial property in a market with extremely high barriers to entry.”

Birtcher will develop the Kroger facility on a 26.4-acre brownfield site at 14900 Garfield Ave. that it bought in 2005 after a two-year bidding process and has since restored.

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