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MIAMI-The industrial market in Miami-Dade County is benefiting from two key factors lately: ongoing trade with Latin America and a lack of new inventory being built. So says local brokerages that have been able to keep some deal velocity while other markets in Florida grind to a virtual halt.

A research report by Colliers Abood Wood-Fay notes that South American economies have remained relatively insulated during the current global recession, which helps Miami-Dade’s longtime status as an international gateway. This has buoyed the local industrial market over the past few quarters, though challenges could come through the remainder of this year.

“The market may receive a much-needed reprieve and allow current inventory to work its way through the market,” Colliers’ report adds. Only 86,000 square feet of new construction activity is under way this year, compared to an annual average of at least 1.6 million square feet in each of the past three years.

Among the latest local deals is a 65,518-square-foot warehouse lease on at least 4.5 acres at 475 NE 185th St. in Miami Gardens. MarJam Supply Co., which handles lumber and building materials, will occupy the former FreshPoint facility on a 10-year term valued at $4 million, or roughly $6 per square foot annually, according to Lincoln Property Co., whose Miami office represented the tenant.

Brooklyn, NY-based MarJam plans to hire 20 employees at its first Florida facility. The company closed on the property less than 45 days after first viewing it, says Harry Wardell, Lincoln Property senior vice president.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Miami office represented the building’s owner, Boston-based TA Associates Realty Inc. CushWake also handled a number of larger industrial deals in the North Dade submarket earlier this year, including the 96,395-square-foot lease by Xpress Global Logistics at 5959 NW 37th Ave. in Hialeah, also on behalf of TA Associates.

Miami-Dade’s overall industrial vacancy rate through the first quarter measured 8.5%, an increase of at least two percentage points from the same quarter in 2008, according to CB Richard Ellis. Asking rents dropped 5% over the year to just above $8 per square foot, largely due to an increase in available big-box space being marketed at discounted rates throughout the county.

Interestingly, new users of industrial space have emerged as discount opportunities present themselves, CBRE says. For example, a 214,372-square-foot former BellSouth warehouse at 600 NE 215th St. in North Miami was sold for $14 million, or $65 per square foot, to the 7,000-member Iglesia Christiana Senales de Vida for conversion to a church.

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