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LEHIGH VALLEY, PA-Chicago-based Higgins Development Partners’ development spree throughout Eastern Pennsylvania is far from over. Having completed more than 1.9 million sf of warehouse distribution space at four buildings between Harrisburg and the Lehigh Valley in 2007, it looks to add another 1.4 million sf in Coolbaugh Township and has a Carlisle site under contract that can accommodate in excess of 500,000 sf.

The development cost comes in at about $50 per sf, according to Gene Preston, SVP, who is located in the company’s Morristown, NJ office. That puts its 2007 investment at about $100 million he tells GlobeSt.com. The 85.5-acre Coolbaugh site Arcadia North Business Park, which Higgins acquired for $14 million, would add another investment of approximately $28 million. The close of the Carlisle land deal would ratchet that up by an additional $10 million.

This is all part of Higgins’ Eastern Pennsylvania strategy. “We’re still very bullish on Pennsylvania,” Preston says, “and we’re actively looking for land opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and west to Greater Harrisburg and the I-78 corridor.” He puts land prices in the Lehigh Valley at between $150,000 and $175,000 an acre, “slightly less as you head west,” he says, adding “prices leveled off in second quarter 2007, but they have not come down.”

One of the four completed buildings is a 503,000-sf build-to-suit for PepsiCo in the Crestwood Industrial Park at 545 Oak Hill Rd. in Mountaintop. The other three, aggregating nearly 1.4 million sf, were built on spec and are in the process of leasing up. Higgins is asking $4.25 per sf for the 400,260-sf asset at 68 Green Mountain Rd. in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazelton, which is designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone that provides tax exemptions.

The asking rate at the 602,000-sf facility at 1700 Ritner Hwy. in Carlisle is also $4.25 per sf. The asking rate for the 385,000-sf warehouse/distribution building in Arcardia West Industrial Park at 9747 Commerce Circle in Weisenberg Township moves up a notch to $4.50 per sf. It is designed as a single-tenant or multi-tenant facility, and Preston says, “we’re closing in on a deal. It could be one or two tenants.” Groundbreaking on the large Coolbaugh parcel awaits a build-to-suit client. “We’ve had a number of expressions of interest,” Preston says.

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