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HOUSTON-Construction is underway on the first phase of Panattoni Development Co.’s one-million-sf Airtex Industrial Center in the far north submarket. The 486,720-sf spec distribution center is slated for completion by April.

The first building will take up about 16 acres of the 59.57-acre site at Airtex Drive and Interstate 45. Similar industrial projects have gone vertical for $50 per sf to $60 per sf. The quoted lease rate is 42 cents per sf, triple net, with a $5 per sf tenant-improvement allowance.

Justin Bennett, Panattoni’s development manager in Houston, says Airtex Industrial Center is the developer’s re-emergence into the region’s industrial market after a long hiatus. The park’s remaining 34 acres will be developed as the market dictates although Bennett does say build-to-suit retail or office would be the best uses for the site.

Bennett says excellent opportunity exists in the north submarket for big-box industrial developments. He points out to GlobeSt.com that the area hasn’t typically been a haven for big-box product, but adds industrial deals are tending to be larger than in the past.

“We designed this first building so we could capture the big-box player,” Bennett says, “but this is also flexible enough to work for the smaller users as well.”

Sacramento-based Panattoni Construction Inc. is the general contractor. GBDH Design Group Inc. also Sacramento, is the architect. Gary Mabray, principal, and Walker Barnett, senior vice president in Colliers International’s Houston office, are the leasing agents.

In December 2001, Panattoni Development began construction on the 120-acre Beltway 8 Corporate Centre on the northwest side, which has a potential of 1.3 million sf of office and auxiliary space. About 350,000 sf has been built at Westway Park Boulevard near Beltway 8. Last January, Panattoni acquired Archway Properties of Houston to build its presence in the market.

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