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CHICAGO-Reno, NV-based Dermody Properties Partners has named Andy James as a partner, and he will oversee the company’s Chicago office, where the firm has plans to significantly expand its presence. James, 45, will be responsible for development of all commercial facilities and parks in the area, acquisition of land to be developed, and investment in existing commercial buildings in the Chicago area.

James has formed his own private development and investment company, J4 Investments LLC, but says he felt his work with DP would offer benefits for both his new venture and his career. “DP has a great national reputation and they were committed to growing in Chicago,” James says. “I was committed to doing something on my own, but after spending time with these guys, it just felt like a natural fit.”

James comes to DP after seven years as an SVP with the Chicago office of Indianapolis-based Duke Realty Corp. “At Duke, I was able to increase the Duke brand in Chicago from two million to seven million sf,” James says.

DP entered the Chicago market in 2003, when it purchased 300 acres for an industrial park in Rochelle, IL, and where a year later it built a 580,000-sf spec distribution center. The property, along with the rest of a 24.7-million-sf portfolio held by DP and the California State Teachers Retirement System, was sold to a ProLogis fund in July 2007 for about $1.8 billion, James says. “It was an unbelievable deal,” he says, freeing up capital that will allow the company to reallocate more of its assets into Chicago market investments.

James says DP Partners, which has become known primarily as an industrial development firm, may look into expanding into other property types in the Chicago market. “We’re reaching out to the brokerage community to find out what the opportunities here are,” James says. “We’d also go into retail or office if it’s the right opportunity.” James also says he sees great potential in the Chicago area for sale-leaseback arrangements.

The company maintains its industrial development at LogistiCenter at Sauk Village, in partnership with the Village of Sauk Village, where it completed earlier this year its third speculative building. The new 496,260-sf distribution center, which remains vacant, is expandable up to 1.2 million sf and could house multiple tenants or a single user. Asking lease rates for the space are around $2.75 per foot, net, James says. “It’s pretty convenient to anywhere, because it’s so close to the interstate systems,” James says. The development is located within six miles of Interstates 80, 94 and 294, and within 14 miles of Interstate 65, he says. “It’s also rail-served by EJ&E, which provides access to all of the rails,” he says. James says the company has seen a good amount of interest in the space. The company has constructed more than 1.5 million sf in three buildings in the 325-acre park since its development began in March 2005. The industrial park is 20 miles south of Chicago, and has the ability to accommodate as much as five million sf of industrial space.

The company also owns an industrial building at 4000 W. 40th St. in Chicago, which it acquired from a private investor over the summer for $4 million. The property was vacant when they purchased it, but has since been fully leased to M&J Distribution Systems Inc. for its corporate headquarters. The lease rate at the facility in Crawford Industrial Park is about $5 per foot, net.

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