In one of the largest industrial land transactions in Miami-Dade County since before the recession, Liberty Property Trust (NYSE:LRY) has acquired 126 acres in Miami-Dade County for the development of Miami International Tradeport.
With an anticipated 1.6 million square feet of new institutional-grade warehouse and distribution space planned, Miami International Tradeport (MIT) is expected to add $135 million in value to Miami-Dade County’s tax base and create 4,000 new construction jobs with 2,000 full-time jobs upon completion.
Butters Construction & Development, a Coconut Creek-based development and construction company, will oversee construction of the new park. CB Richard Ellis brokered the transaction.
Liberty purchased the land and the interest of other associated parties for a total investment of approximately $20 million. The land fronts Florida’s Turnpike, just south Okeechobee Road and had been owned by cement and concrete firm Tarmac America for. The deal closed Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.
“This acquisition marks our entrance into Miami-Dade County,” said Andy Petry, vice president and city manager for Liberty. “We feel there is a tremendous opportunity for well-designed and located industrial product in Miami-Dade County, and we are excited to begin development and to grow our footprint in South Florida.”
Liberty is moving through the entitlement process for the site, which among other uses once housed a limestone quarry. Final zoning approval is expected in January. Liberty plans to start construction on the first wave of speculative, multi-tenant, distribution buildings in late 2012 along with the basic infrastructure for the park. The project will be built in phases over the next five to seven years.
The vision for the property’s highest-and-best use was first conceived by Butters President Malcolm Butters and Butters Director of Acquisitions Adam Vaisman.
The 21-year-old Butters organization, which has built more 10 million square feet of commercial space in South Florida, was drawn to western Miami-Dade County by the rapidly improving fundamentals of the warehouse and distribution market. During the past year, vacancy rates for the county’s Class A industrial buildings west of Miami International Airport have steadily fallen to below 5 percent and gross rents have risen to more than $8 per square foot. This is being driven by robust cargo operations at Miami International Airport and the expansion of the Port of Miami and Panama Canal that will soon carry super-sized Panamax ships into region.”
“Miami is quickly becoming one of the top industrial gateway cities in the United States and is considered, along with Southern California, as one the über-core markets, where all the institutional real estate owners must have a presence, “said Malcolm Butters. “This site was clearly one of the last large land tracts available in western Miami-Dade County for industrial development and will enable us to attract large users. There is currently no space available to industrial users seeking more than 500,000 square feet of space. In addition, Miami will be one of only three ports on the East Coast that can accommodate the new Panamax ships. ”
After putting the Tarmac site under contract, Butters began the process of re-zoning and entitling the land as well as master-planning it for development. Butters hired CB Richard Ellis to find an institutional partner that would share in the vision and help capitalize the development.
According to Christian Lee, Vice Chairman of CBRE, Liberty Property Trust was the best fit for the deal from among a number of well-capitalized institutional suitors. Lee said: “Liberty not only had the confidence that the demand for the product will be there once completed, but also was comfortable that Butters would be able to successfully navigate the zoning and permitting process associated with a project of this size.”
Chris Riley, also a Vice Chairman with CBRE, indicated there were a number of other reasons to go with Liberty as well. “I’ve been involved with numerous transactions involving Liberty Property Trust across the country,” Riley said. “They have consistently delivered on their promises and have a reputation for recognizing solid investment opportunities and bring them to fruition, which made them a natural fit with Butters.”
Lee and Riley led the transaction for CBRE, assisted by Charles Foschini, Devin White, David Albert and Jose Lobon.
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