News Article | 11/12/2007

Local company gets major marketing deal

The industrial real estate arm of Grubb & Ellis|Barkley Fraser should have plenty to say grace over.

The locally based company got the nod from Dallas developer Hillwood to market its proposed 9 million-square-foot Charleston Trade Center along Interstate 26 near Jedburg. The sought-after leasing and brokerage gig falls to Thomas Buist and Michael J. Ferrer.

“This is as big as it gets,” said Chris Fraser, president and managing principal of Grubb & Ellis|Barkley Fraser.

Hillwood’s plan calls for 8 million square feet of industrial real estate and up to 1 million square feet of office and retail space. The development is projected to create about 3,000 jobs and it ranks among the largest commercial real estate ventures ever in South Carolina.

The project also would boost the size of the local industrial real estate market —currently weighing in at about 26 million square feet — by about one-third to the local market if built out.

Hillwood said Friday that construction should begin by mid-2008 on the first of roughly 13 buildings planned for Charleston Trade Center. The 400,000-square-foot speculative structure, which can be expanded to about 650,000 feet, should be ready for occupancy by the end of next year.

The property has attracted much interest over the years but no takers until Hillwood came along.

Among the better-known tire kickers: Mercedes-Benz and the former DaimlerChrysler AG, both of which considered building automotive assembly plants out there.

Gary Frederick, senior vice president of Hillwood Investment Properties, said the 750-acre site is poised to become “a prime logistics location” because of its proximity to I-26, Interstate 95 and the Port of Charleston.

A new interchange near the Hillwood tract has been proposed but is not approved. In the meantime, vehicles will enter and exit the property via Exit 194 on I-26. Hillwood said it plans to invest $9 million in improvements in and around the Jedburg Road on- and off-ramps under an agreement with Berkeley County.

Headed by Ross Perot Jr., son of the 1992 presidential candidate, Hillwood has developed several major warehouse and distribution hubs, including AllianceTexas in Dallas-Fort Worth, DeSoto Trade Center near Memphis, AllianceCalifornia near Los Angeles and Lakeside Trade Center in North Texas.