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SAVANNAH, GA-AMB Property Corp. has signed its first tenant at its first new building at AMB Morgan Business Center, located 10 miles from the Port of Savannah in Bloomingdale. AMB touts the $20-million building as the first speculative industrial development to be built to the LEED silver certification standard. Foxboro, MA-based Dorel Juvenile Group Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of children’s products, has signed a three-year lease with an estimated value of $1.7 million for 150,000 sf at Building 100.

“Dorel decided to establish an East Coast distribution model to complement our existing West Coast model,” Tim Ferguson, a Dorel executive vice president, said in a release. The company manufacturers the Safety 1st, Cosco Juvenile, Quinny and Maxi-Cosi brands, as well as licensed brands including Disney and Eddie Bauer.

“High fuel costs, growing demand for our products in the eastern US, and ever increasing import volumes drove our interest in Savannah—and AMB Morgan Business Center was identified as the ideal site,” said Ferguson. He added that the building’s sustainability features were also attractive to the company.

Dorel also has expansion options for the remainder of the 347,000-sf building, says Charlie Fiveash, vice president of leasing and marketing director of the East Region for AMB. With the new tenant, Building 100 is currently 43% leased, and AMB is confident that it can bring the building to at least 80% next year, when it will start construction of Building 200, he says.

In total, AMB Morgan Business Center is set to include 3.3 million sf in four buildings—a project estimated at $175 million. Buildings 200, 300 and 400 are all scheduled as build-to-suit projects, and will be 270,000 sf, 1.3 million sf and 1.2 million sf, respectively. Leasing rates will range from $3.75 up to $4.25 net, says Fiveash.

“Leasing demand has come from the growth of the Savannah Port,” he explains. “Companies in the supply chain are now looking at facilities closer to airports and seaports, particularly, as opposed to having central distribution centers.” Big names like Pier 1 Imports, Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s have established distribution centers within a ten-mile radius of the port, says Fiveash, because of the its growth and massive import capabilities.

According to the Georgia Ports Authority website, Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah is the fourth-largest container port in the US and the largest single-terminal operation in North America. The port also plans to deepen Savannah’s channel from 42 feet to 48 feet by 2010 in order to accommodate what it terms as “the next generation of deep-draft vessels.”

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