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TUCSON-Astoria Partners Ltd. has come away from negotiations with a local partnership, Boa Sorte LP, with 47.7 acres in the Sunbelt Industrial Center. The Vancouver, BC-based buyer has paid just north of $1 million for the land.

Stephen D. Cohen, a principal of Picor Commercial Real Estate Services in Tucson, says the buyer most likely will develop lots for resale to end users. The acreage fronts Old Vail Road near Rita Road. Picor principal Russell W. Hall and Cohen, whose firm is a Cushman & Wakefield alliance member, brokered the deal.

Cohen says he is marketing about 202 acres of the 250-acre Sunbelt Industrial Center for two different owners. “This is adjacent to the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park and the former Slim Fast plant, which is now owned by a Mexican food company, La Costena Foods,” he says. With Interstate 10 nearby, he says the land has good infrastructure in place.

Cohen admits the area’s industrial land has been somewhat slow to sell. Sunbelt Industrial Center is part of a 3,300-acre master-planned community, Rita Ranch, which was carved from 13,000 acres originally owned by Howard Hughes.

Cohen says Rita Ranch had 2,300 acres zoned for residential and commercial use and 1,000 acres zoned for industrial. He says the introduction of the industrial land to the market in the 1980s–along with other industrially zoned land from the Hughes estate–led to a case of overkill.

“In good years, we typically absorb about 250 acres of industrial land and about 100 acres in leaner years,” Cohen tells GlobeSt.com. “That really depressed the land market and Rita Ranch languished for many years.”

The industrial development scenario changed somewhat in 2003. “We realized we had a limited supply of platted lots in main industrial areas, especially in the airport area,” Cohen says. “Rita Ranch began to see a lot more activity.”

Cohen says Rita Ranch’s industrial land is selling for $2.50 per sf to $3 per sf, with developers re-selling developed lots for $4 per sf to $7 per sf. “The economic conditions today are slowing down absorption of the finished lots,” he adds. “As soon as the market returns, Rita Ranch land will increase pretty significantly in value.”

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