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MINOOKA, IL-Liberty Property Trust has acquired 225 acres to develop Liberty Business Center Minooka, a 3.5-million-sf plan for three industrial buildings. The all-in development cost could be as much as $150 million.

Liberty’s new development site is situated at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Ridge Road. The buyer isn’t discussing who it bought the land from or how much it paid.

Don Schoenheider, VP and city manager for the Malvern, PA-based Liberty, says the property has “great visibility” on Interstate 80 and is about three miles from Interstate 55, which gives access to the south as well as to Chicago. “The I-55 market has shown very strong net absorption the past couple of months,” he says. The property is also near the BNSF railroad intermodal yard. Liberty acquired the parcel, in part, because “we felt strongly that we needed to create a position in that I-80 corridor,” he says.

The park is expected to have three warehouse and distribution buildings. The first building is a one-million-sf spec distribution center, planned for the Minooka Road-Ferguson Boulevard junction. The building is designed for one or two tenants, he says. Construction is expected to begin in the spring and be completed in fourth quarter 2008. The building’s asking rate has not been decided, Schoenheider says.

The other two buildings, with slightly more than 1.2 million sf, are not expected to be spec projects. Schoenheider says Liberty expects to complete construction of all three buildings in the park in about four years.

Liberty plans to have “green” buildings with energy efficient systems and native landscaping to reduce the need for water irrigation,according to Schoenheider. Liberty is choosing to go “green” with the project because it is the “right thing to do,” he says, adding it’s also something that corporations are now seeking. “More and more, requests for proposals we see from corporations require buildings–particularly on a build-to-suit–to have some level of LEED certification,” he says.

Schoenheider points out buildings with green features have a lower cost of occupancy and are better environments for employees, meaning higher productivity and lower absenteeism. The park’s buildings will have a greater level of air flow to increase productivity, more windows for more natural light, and motion sensors for lights to reduce operating costs. Additionally, the park will have walking areas, bike racks and bike paths that will tie into village bike paths.

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