Liberty Property Trust betting on strength of Twin Cities industrial market

A rendering of Dayton Distribution Center 1.

A rendering of Dayton Distribution Center 1.

by Dan Rafter

Officials with Liberty Property Trust have faith in the industrial market in and around Minneapolis/St. Paul.

On Oct. 20, Liberty Property celebrated the ground-breaking of Dayton Distribution Center I, a 247,004-square-foot spec distribution center in the city of Dayton, Minn.

The building is expected to be complete by the spring of 2015. And Dave Jellison, vice president and city manager for the company, said that he and his fellow officials aren’t worried about filling the space once the new center opens for business.

“A number of people have contacted us about the space,” Jellison said. “There is real good activity in the Northwest marketplace right now. So far, we have seen strong interest in this building. We are confident that we will find the right tenants.”

Dave Jellison

Dave Jellison

Jellison’s confidence is not misplaced. The industrial market in and around the Twin Cities today is a strong one, with plenty of demand for modern distribution-center space.

And that’s exactly what Liberty Property Trust is delivering with the Dayton Distribution Center.

Jellison says that prior to the last 18 months, there was little new construction in the industrial sector for five or six years. That has left plenty of pent-up demand for industrial space, he says.

“A lot of companies are now looking to upgrade the quality of their buildings,” Jellison said. “They want buildings with higher clear-heights in good locations. The Northwest market is a good example. There are many companies that have chosen to put up new buildings there.”

Industrial advantages

Jellison said that the Dayton Distribution Center will have several advantages in the market. First, Liberty Property Trust has committed to hitting LEED-certified standards with the new distribution center. Secondly, the new building will be located right off Interstate-94, a strong location. Potential tenants will be able to clearly see the building from the highway.

And thirdly? The building will boast the modern amenities that tenants expect today.

Dayton Distribution Center 1 will feature 32-foot clear heights, trailer storage and a deep truck court. Liberty is pursuing LEED for Building Design and Construction: Core & Shell Development at the Silver level for the project.

Ed Farr Architects is the architect for the project. Anderson Engineering of MN, LLC is the civil engineer, and R.J. Ryan Construction is the general contractor.

Working relationships

Jellison said that officials with the city of Dayton were key to making the new distribution center a reality. The city has a reputation for being pro-business, and it showed during the planning phase, Jellison said.

The warm weather early this fall helped, too, Jellison added.

“We were really working hard to get the plans done, to get everything approved with the short construction window we have in Minnesota,” Jellison said. “We wanted to get our first lift of blacktop in before the Thanksgiving holiday. We are working to hit that deadline. Getting the blacktop done is crucial to delivering the building by April or May of next year. We are working hard, fast and furious with the good weather this fall to keep everything moving forward.”

Liberty officials are so committed to the distribution center that it has already started work on plans for a second potential development in the complex, Dayton Distribution Center II, a 76,978-square-foot facility. The company estimates that construction on this project, if it becomes a reality, will start in the middle of 2015.

Jellison said that Liberty now owns enough land for a second phase, the smaller distribution center. But this land can also be used for extra trailer storage if the users of Dayton Distribution Center I want it.

But if Liberty Property Trust does decide to move forward with the second smaller center? It appears that there will be plenty of interest in it.

“We have already had one prospect contact us about that building,” Jellison said. “So we know that the interest is there.”

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