Exeter buys 42+ acres at Air Commerce Park, eyes 500k SF of spec industrial

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Pennsylvania-based real estate investment firm Exeter Property Group paid more than $8.35 million in late July for 42.3 acres in the Mulvaney brothers' Air Commerce Park assemblage west of Orlando International Airport, and hopes to break ground late this year on its first speculative industrial space in Orlando, a principal with the company told GrowthSpotter.

"From what I understand we have the ability to build about 500,000 square feet of industrial, which we'll likely do in one building. We're in the design phase now, and hope to have something up by this time next year," said Todd Carter, Exeter's investment officer for the Southeast. "We'll develop this on spec, and think the market fundamentals support it." 

The developer filed a Master Plan with the city of Orlando on Aug. 2 to develop a 561,750-square-foot distribution center on the site. 

Located on the south end of Air Commerce Parkway, the land lies adjacent to 90 acres that Becknell Industrial has bought in the past year in the park, where it's expected to develop more than 1 million square feet of spec industrial by late 2018. 

Becknell has 169,000 square feet remaining in its Phase 1 building, with Phase 2 expected to begin construction in October, said David Murphy, senior vice president with CBRE and leasing agent for the property.

Local real estate investors Kenneth and Brian Mulvaney have been looking for developers to buy portions of 239.54 acres of ex-Navy training property they've acquired across two rounds of transactions, in February 2008 and April 2016

Of that total, the Mulvaneys now still own more than 105 acres contiguous available for sale, a mass accessible via 8th Street, Boggy Creek Road and Rayburn Street.

The property offers easy access to the airport, BeachLine Expressway, Florida's Turnpike, Interstate 4, and nearby rail lines.

The Exeter deed was signed July 27 and recorded Monday in Orange County.

Exeter is a private REIT, self-proclaimed as the largest in the country with 140 million square feet of industrial space. The company is now investing for its Value Fund IV, a $1.275 billion equity fund. 

The company currently owns seven industrial properties in Greater Orlando totaling approximately 900,000 square feet, following its last acquisition in mid-June

Exeter was drawn to the Air Commerce Park land because of its ability to serve industrial tenants as a hub near OIA, or as a last-mile delivery center for southeast Orlando's growing residential market, Carter said. 

"If you look at the significant growth occurring in Lake Nona, that area continues to add rooftops and at some point these buildings (in Air Commerce Park) will become optimal last-mile delivery centers," he added. "This land is positioned favorably to meet the demand for limited large blocks of Class A bulk space. The investments there by Becknell and now Amazon right down the road validates this." 

Florida Engineering Group is civil engineer on the project, GMA is the architect and general contractor will be Arco Design/Build. Site work start is targeted for late 2017, said Adam Duerr, senior project manager for Exeter. 

The company will seek a construction loan in the coming months to partially finance the new Orlando project, Carter said. 

Exeter manages its warehouse properties internally, and will likely do its leasing and marketing in-house as well, Carter said. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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