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CHICAGO-Preferred Freezer has signed a 25-year lease for a 175,000-square-foot build-to-suit warehouse being developed by KTR Capital Partners. Originally planned as a spec development, the facility is expected to cost around $38.5 million to build.

Newark, NJ-based Preferred Freezer will expand to this new facility as its 24th location in North America, while maintaining its current space at the nearby 2500 S. Damen Ave. KTR was represented in the lease by Lawrence Much, Stephen Connolly and Irv Malik, all with NAI Hiffman’s Industrial Services Group.

“We approached Preferred Freezer as a good candidate because we understood their building in the area was pretty full so we contacted them and asked if they were interested in expanding and they were,” Much tells GlobeSt.com. “There’s nothing like this in the US of this ceiling height and LEED certified with all robots operating inside. There are a lot of components that have never been done before, so we’re kind of in uncharted territory and that’s exciting for sure.”

The development is being planned to achieve LEED Platinum certification and become the first industrial building in the city of Chicago to achieve the distinction. It will offer 57-foot clear ceilings, robot picking technology, 30 trailer spots and 18 truck docks.

Ground was broken late last year on the building, and it is expected to deliver to Preferred Freezer by September. Much and Connolly declined to release Preferred Freezer’s lease rate, but said when the building was being marketed on spec, the space was offered for $7.25 per square foot net.

The property is in an area of limited available land on the southside of Chicago, close to Interstate 55 in the Crawford Industrial Park, which houses around 100 other buildings.

“There’s been little to no build to suits and very little new construction in this area in the city of Chicago in years,” Much says. “This site offers proximity to their existing facility and high visibility on Interstate 55. They were also attracted to the landlord’s ability to perform the build-to-suit and fund it.”

KTR purchased the property at 4500 West Ann Lurie Place, which also offers a 310,000-square-foot distribution facility formerly occupied by Dominick’s, in December 2007 for $14.5 million, Much says. Dominick’s former building has been updated with TPO roofing, T5 lighting and new docks, and is currently vacant, with asking lease rates of $4.95 per square foot net. Preferred Freezer’s new warehouse will be developed on nearly 10 acres adjacent to the existing building.

The project was designed by Ware Malcomb Architects and is being built by Keeley Construction, and is expected to bring 20 jobs to the city.

“It’s hard to get deals done now, but this was a team effort between the architect, the client and the developer,” Connolly tells GlobeSt.com. “You get a lot of companies that drag their feet in a slow market but this really came together as well as it could have.”

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