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COVINGTON TOWNSHIP, PA-Sears Holdings Corp. has sold its one-million-sf distribution center at Covington Industrial Park to San Antonio-based USAA Real Estate Co.’s US Industrial REIT II. Published reports say the build-to-suit facility, which opened in April with Sears Logistics Services as its long-term tenant, changed hands for $56.1 million.

James Sheehan, senior director with Cushman & Wakefield Inc.’s Philadelphia office, tells GlobeSt.com that a sizable, brand-new facility like this is “extremely appealing to large institutional investors.” Sheehan arranged the sale along C&W’s Jerome Kranzel, Jeff Williams, Steve Cooper, Gerry Blinebury and James Vesey.

Completed in 2007, the building is the newest and largest of four facilities at the 800-acre industrial park, developed by Chicago-based First Industrial Realty Trust. It offers 32-foot clear heights, tilt-up concrete walls, ESFR sprinklers, cross-docking and additional trailer storage. Although a confidentiality agreement prevents him from disclosing the per-sf rates that Sears Logistics is paying, Sheehan says industrial rents in the northeastern Pennsylvania corridor range from “the high $3 to $4 range.”

Sheehan points out that “like all asset classes, industrial is facing the storm of the credit markets,” but he adds industrial properties “seem to fare better” in transaction volume. A news release from C&W notes northeastern Pennsylvania is “a rapidly growing distribution hub.” The region contains more than 46 million sf of industrial space with a relatively low vacancy rate of 10.5%.

First Industrial had secured the Hoffman Estates, IL-based Sears as a build-to-suit tenant in in March 2007. The Sears site is in a portion of the park designated as a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone, which provides certain tax abatements through 2013. At that time, GlobeSt.com reported Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development and the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce provided Sears with $90,000 in customized job-training funds.

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