With the always active Memphis industrial market especially busy this year, Hillwood is ramping up development in its DeSoto Trade Center in the suburb of Southaven, Miss. Having signed third-party logistics firm Kuehne + Nagel Group to an 865,120-square-foot build-to-suit, it is starting vertical construction on that site plus two speculative buildings of 552,000 and 301,000 square feet.”Over the last year we’ve seen an up-tick in activity,” observed T. Preston Herold, marketing director for Hillwood Investment Properties. And more of that activity is leading to actual contracts signed, he added. Interested companies include both third-party logistics firms, like Kuehne or Kenco Group, which is also located in the park, and direct product distributors like Helen of Troy, the hair- and skin-care product distributor that signed a deal for 1.2 million square feet in May for a building now under construction, along with existing park occupants Conair, Emerson Electric and Chubb USA. Hillwood was granted free trade zone status last October and has had the three sites where it commenced construction leveled with utilities in place. This enabled it to start construction quickly. As a result, the firm is confident in its ability to lease up the new spec buildings despite other construction underway in the area, according to Herold.Panattoni, IDI and ProLogis all have buildings under construction or newly completed, largely on the Memphis side of the state line. “There’s definitely competition on the very large big-box deals,” he said. “(But) there’s enough absorption, especially in DeSoto County, on the Mississippi side, that we feel confident we will have it leased up very quickly.”Herold anticipates completion of the three new buildings in first quarter 2006. Hillwood was represented in the Kuehne + Nagel deal by Dan Wilkinson of Colliers Wilkinson Snowden, Richard Burnette of The Burnette Co. and Herold, while Kuehne + Nagel was represented by Bo bHutson, Patrick Burke and Matthew Ware of CB Richard Ellis Inc.Hillwood bought the land for the park in late 2002 and completed its first speculative building, of 846,000 square feet, in October 2003. The park covers 668 acres and can accommodate 16 buildings totaling more than 11 million square feet.