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GONZALES, LA-MIE Properties-Louisiana, a division of Baltimore-based St. John Properties Inc., has begun construction of the first phase of Pelican Point Commerce Center, a 32-acre industrial-flex project that will ultimately have up to 225,000 sf. The first phase is a 37,000-sf building with an all-in development tab of $5 million to $7 million.

Pelican Point’s first building, going up at 8184 Hwy. 44, is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. MIE vice president of operations Todd Pevey says the company builds all projects on a speculative basis. “I find that when the building walls start to go up that’s when the calls start coming in,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “We don’t have any immediate prospects, but we aren’t worried.”

Located near Highway 44′s intersection with Interstate 10, Pelican Point Commerce Center is the company’s second major industrial development in Gonzales, a small city midway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The start of construction coincides roughly with the wrap-up of the last phase of the 310,000-sf Main Street Pelican Point. The first three phases are fully leased. Both projects adjoin the 36-hole Pelican Point Golf & Country Club, which MIE also owns.

Pevey quotes rates for both industrial projects at $8 per sf to $14 per sf, depending on build-out. He says the properties attract a range of small industrial, office and research and development users.

Pevey estimates the five-building Pelican Point will cost $30 million to $40 million to develop. He says it is to be completed in three or four phases. Phase two construction will depend upon the response to phase one, but the MIE exec anticipates launching construction on one or two more similar-size buildings in about 18 months.

In the meantime, Pevey reports the team is looking at another 26-acre site for a third development like the first two. He hopes to have a purchase agreement in hand within a couple weeks.

Pevey, who publishes regular reports on the Baton Rouge and New Orleans industrial sectors, considers the market very strong right now. “We’ve got $5 billion to $10 billion of petrochemical plant expansions,” he says. “As long as price of gas is $4 a gallon, we’re going to continue to see a very strong industrial market here.”

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