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HARVARD, IL-Jones Lang LaSalle has been selected by property owner Optima International to lease up the 1.5-million-square-foot former Motorola campus at 2001 N. Division St. The 325-acre campus includes four buildings which offer a mix of 572,000 square feet of office and 975,000 square foot of light manufacturing and distribution space. The property was originally developed as the regional headquarters for Motorola’s cell phone operations in 1997.

“Right now we’re looking to retenant it to find users that could come in and leverage the tremendous existing infrastructure that’s in place,” says Mark Kolar, of JLL’s Chicago industrial team which is marketing the property. “Anytime Motorola develops a building like this, it’s always fairly strong on infrastructure. The advantage here in this type of marketplace is that buildings like this would probably cost $250 million to develop, and this offers a company an opportunity to get in there at up to 50% below replacement costs.”

The campus offers two daycare facilities, a 1,100-person dining room, auditorium, fitness center and interconnected material handling system. It has been vacant since Motorola left it around 2004. Motorola owned the property until 2005, when it was sold to American Assets Inc., who most recently divested the property to Optima in October for $18 million, sources say.

Kolar says prospective tenants can feel confident in entering into a deal with the building owner. “Optima is a privately-held family fund and they have significant access to capital,” he says. “The advantage here in working with Optima is that they’re not necessarily tied to traditional bank lines. Given the capital-constrained economy, many landlords are having trouble getting transactions completed, but you’re not going to see that with Optima as long as the deal and the credit profile of the tenant makes sense.”

Asking lease rates for the office space are below $10 per square foot net, and below $3.50 per square foot net for the industrial space. “That’s about $2 to $3 per square foot lower than any other class A office in the suburban market,” Kolar says. “On the industrial side, there’s really no other property that has the infrastructure and material handling systems in place. Someone that can reuse the existing conditions will realize a tremendous value, because anyone who would want the technology this property has would have to redevelop it themselves and we’re going to be significantly below that cost.”

The property is located in the far northwest submarket, providing proximity to the Rockford International Airport, the second largest UPS hub in the US, which offers lower cost freight than Chicago-based airports.

“Logistically, this is a great area for distribution and has been growing as a distribution hub,” Kolar says. “This is a perfect opportunity for a foreign company that wants to be able to come in and penetrate the US market from a central North American location. We’ve found companies are still looking for value and when there are nice first-class properties presented at low market values, they are willing to take extra space.”

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