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While companies like ProLogis and AMB Property Corp. have capitalized on relationships with major logistics companies to build facilities across the globe, inside the US real estate has generally remained tied to geography. Customers select a location, then look for a developer with properties there.

But that has begun to change as an increasing number of development companies forge alliances to build multiple projects for a single client in different parts of the country. In recent examples, Chicago-based Ridge Property Trust established a relationship with Mexican retailer FAMSA to build distribution centers in multiple markets in the US and Mexico, while Campanelli Cos. of Braintree, MA contracted to build 15 full-service refrigerated warehouses in seven states for Preferred Freezer Services of Newark, NJ. The developers say the relationships work to the advantage of both parties.

“Our work with FAMSA provides us with a unique opportunity to leverage our strengths in the build-to-suit market to create a top tier distribution facility,” says Ridge chairman and CEO James Martell. “At the same time it has opened the door for continuing development activities between the two organizations, allowing Ridge to expand its presence in South Texas and move beyond the Mexican border to include land from Monterrey to Tijuana.”

Ridge began its first project for FAMSA in October, a 198,000-sf build-to-suit in San Antonio, but is in discussion for several others. The furniture, appliance and electronics dealer already has 25 stores in the US and plans to expand to 300.

FAMSA is only one of several repeating relationships for Ridge, says company vice president Kent Newsom. “Many times clients will have the same needs across multiple locations. Rather than having to redesign or get someone else up to speed, it’s more efficient to use a single developer,” he tells GlobeSt.com.

Campanelli, which has done work for Preferred Freezer in the past, will develop 1.5 million sf of new space for the company. It has already begun new projects in Jacksonville, FL, Elizabeth, NJ and Everett, MA. According to Preferred Freezer president and CEO John Galiher, the specialized nature of his company’s product makes it extremely helpful to go with a single developer rather than having to instruct new ones in the specific requirements. “Campanelli’s team has consistently provided our company with valuable expertise, design skills and development services to assure timely execution and delivery of our new cold storage facilities,” he says.

Newsom says there are several economies for the developer when working with one user in multiple locations, especially in terms of design documents. “If they have similar needs, we don’t have to recreate the wheel,” he says. “It’s a matter of understanding their process, making sure there’s continuity. We do save time and money.” Even though the FAMSA buildings won’t be identical, there are enough similarities to make the process more efficient. Another benefit of long-term client relationships, adds the Ridge exec, is assured cash flow into the future and less time spent on marketing.

Newsom points out that continuing relationships also help the client because there’s no need to “bring the developer up to speed” on what is needed in a building. In addition, the developer can use its contacts and experience to find new locations. “We become their in-house real estate group from a development standpoint,” he says.

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