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FORT WORTH-After 21 months of laying the groundwork, the Amon G. Carter Foundation and Rob Riner Cos. are joint venturing to develop a 15-million-sf rail-served industrial park. The estimated $150-million Carter Distribution Center will get under way in January with a 615,000-sf spec project.

Rob Riner, president and CEO of the locally based namesake company, has just started his road show for the estimated 800-acre, two-phase development beside the 950-acre Carter Industrial Park. Riner’s charge is to build out the balance of a land bank that the foundation has owned about 60 years. Dirt work is scheduled to begin Dec. 3 on the southeast quadrant of Oak Grove and Joel East roads, allowing the developer to pencil a permit pulling for January.

Patrick Harris, executive vice president of investments for the Amon G. Carter Foundation in Fort Worth, says several developers through the years have talked about forming a joint venture. “But, nobody really followed through like Rob did,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “He’s definitely the catalyst in getting this done. We think the market demand is there right now plus there’s not much competition on the west side of the metroplex.”

Carter Distribution Center’s first phase will consist of four buildings on 145.7 net acres, all accessible to Union Pacific Railway Co.’s short-haul provider, Fort Worth Western Railroad Co. In addition to the flagship project, the plan calls for an 806,000-sf structure on 40.5 acres; 676,300-sf building on 29.88 acres; and 988,000-sf distribution center on 46.95 acres. Riner says he’s already talking to a 150,000-sf tenant, another one for 400,000 sf and some build-to-suit prospects.

The first building will have a 32-foot clear height, 52-foot by 50-foot column spacing, 190-foot truck courts, at least 70 dock doors and 89 trailer parking spaces. The spec space, penciled for a June delivery, is being marketed at $3.35 per sf, triple net, with $3 per sf as a tenant-improvement allowance.

Hardy McCullah/MLM Architects Inc. of Dallas designed the spec building and master-planned the park and Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers Inc. of Dallas was the civil engineer. Bob Moore Construction Inc. of Arlington is the general contractor for the first structure. Riner’s team includes Robert H. Muir, executive vice president of development, and COO Keith Webster.

Riner’s confidence in Carter Distribution Center is tied to its location: one mile east of Interstate 35 South or the Nafta Highway and one mile south of Interstate 20. “We’re the catcher’s mitt for the maquiladoras. We’re the first stop in for Nuevo Laredo, Matamoras and Juarez,” he says. The development site also is just eight miles from Downtown Fort Worth.

Riner also has an application pending for Foreign Trade Zone status, expanding one that’s in place for its next-door neighbor, Alcon Laboratories Inc., which has its world headquarters on land that it bought from the foundation. That and the Triple Freeport exemption will build in clout for Carter Distribution Center’s ability to compete against the 17.8 million sf of mostly spec spec that’s coming out of the ground in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Riner says it could take three to five years before the 620-acre second phase gets under way, but the good news is it’s time to start Carter Distribution Center. “It’s been a long time in coming. It really has. The front end was more complicated than you’d think,” he says. “Now, we’ll do the simple part: build it and lease it.”

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