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TUCSON-Rockefeller Group Development Corp. launched construction on the first phase of its 410,000-square-foot, 21-acre Rockefeller Group Distribution Center. The speculative 113,000-square-foot distribution building will deliver in May 2009, with other phases to follow based on market demand.

Mark Singerman, director with the New York City developer’s Arizona regional office says the site near Valencia road, half a mile east of the Tucson International Airport will eventually contain two warehouse buildings totaling just over 300,000 square feet and a 192,000-square-foot multitenant flex building. “We’d obviously like to get pre-leasing or some kind of build-to-suit on the other parcels,” Singerman says. “Depending on lease-up of the first, though, we’ll move forward on speculative development on the second part.”

Lundstrom & Associates Architects of Irvine, CA is the architect, while local company Chestnut Construction is the general contractor. Tucson-based Picor Commercial Real Estates Services, a member of the Cushman & Wakefield Alliance, will handle leasing.

Singerman tells GlobeSt.com that Rockefeller Group Development Corp. is planning the park for Tucson because the current stock of industrial buildings isn’t meeting demand. Tucson, in the past, has tended to be a smaller market, rarely seeing users requiring larger than 50,000 square feet.

However, when Solon America came to Tucson in late 2007 needing 100,000 square feet near the airport the company “had to settle for a single-story, 16-foot clear span metal building, probably 25 to 30 years old, with one truck dock and very little docking,” Singerman says. Furthermore, he adds, locally based University of Arizona is a large supporter of solar technology and is starting to attract the high-tech users, which also require larger blocks of space.

A growing demand from large industrial users coupled with the fact that Tucson doesn’t have much available land remaining gave Rockefeller Group Development the idea climate in which to build its distribution center. Singerman says Rockefeller Group Development was fortunate enough to buy the last finished lot in the Tucson Airport Commerce Center for the project. “As leases in other locations expire, and our buildings become an option, we think they’ll be very attractive,” Singerman remarks.

He goes on to say that the company’s exit strategy is to sell the project in its entirety once it’s built out. But anything could change, depending on market conditions. “That’s the strategy now,” Singerman points out. “If someone comes along and wants to take a whole building, we’re willing to discuss that.”

Rockefeller Group Development opened a Phoenix office last summer to oversee its area projects including the 70,000-square-foot Chandler Corporate Office Center at McClintock Drive and Desert Breeze Boulevard and the 468,000-square-foot 101 Chandler at 2919 W. Chandler Blvd. Singerman says other than Chandler Corporate Office Center and Rockefeller Group Distribution Center, 2009 will be a year of permits and entitlements for the company in the Arizona market. More new construction will likely commence in 2010.

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