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TUCSON- EastGroup Properties LP signed the first tenant for the 137,600-square-foot second phase of Country Club Commerce Center approaching completion near Tucson International Airport and negotiated a renewal with an existing tenant in the Jackson, MS-based REIT’s 44,089-square-foot North Tucson Business Park. MEI Mail Services signed a five-year lease for 4,800 square feet in Building IV of Country Club Commerce Center at South Country Club Road and Bilby Road, while Sara Lee Corp. renewed its 32,932-square-foot lease for one year at 3925-3951 N. Benan Venture Dr.

Rob Glaser, a principal with PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services who represented EastGroup in both transactions, calls Tucson a market in distress. “There’s been moderate deterioration of occupancy levels and rents are dropping,” he tells GlobeSt.com. Though he says the level of interest in the Country Club project has been surprisingly strong, he notes the “Signing the lease side of the equation has not been overly exciting.” Most prospective tenants are looking for spaces in the 20,000-square-foot range, he adds.

Country Club, which consists of one building of 99,000 square feet and another 38,600 square feet, is one of two speculative industrial projects in construction in the airport vicinity. The other is a 113,000-square-foot building that will be the first at Tucson Airport Commerce Center. The three-building project, being developed by New York City’s Rockefeller Group Development Corp., broke ground in January. Glaser and PICOR colleague Peter Douglas have the listings for both projects, but Glaser says interest in the Rockefeller building has been weaker because its completion is further off. The EastGroup complex is slated for completion this month, while the other building will not be ready until June.

Glaser says both properties are competing in an airport market with an industrial vacancy rate of 10% and rising. But the majority of vacancies, he points out, are in R&D buildings or buildings with an R&D component, while the EastGroup and Rockefeller projects are among a much smaller group designed specifically for logistics and distribution tenants. He reports MEI is paying $0.63 a square foot, triple net, which is at the high end of current market levels. The asking rent for Tucson Airport Commerce Center is $0.65 a square foot.

In regard to the Sara Lee deal, Glaser says the one-year lease gives the baked goods manufacturer “a little bit more time as they contemplate what they’re going to do in the marketplace.” The company, which uses the space for warehousing and distribution, has been in the four-acre property for seven years.

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