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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 16, 2018 6 months ago

Knott begins work on Lee spec industrial project

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Baltimore-based Knott Realty Group has begun work on a nearly 201,000-square-foot, speculative industrial building in Fort Myers near the Southwest Florida International Airport.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

Baltimore-based Knott Realty Group has begun work on a nearly 201,000-square-foot, speculative industrial building in Fort Myers near the Southwest Florida International Airport.

The first building in the developer's Meridian Center project is slated for completion in September; a second building, measuring roughly 150,000 square feet, is slated to commence by the end of the year.

“The vacancy rate for industrial space in that area is sub-2%,” says Kate Sanft, a Knott development manager. “So there's obviously strong demand, and there's only 400,000 square feet of space under construction at present — and we're half of that total. Plus, the land is in a good position for us to move fast.”

Knott acquired Meridian Center's 27 acres for $2.1million last August. Its first building there will feature 32-foot-clear ceiling heights, 58 dock doors, a 130-foot truck court and parking for 350 vehicles.

Lee & Associates Inc. is handling leasing for the 10400 Meridian Center Parkway project, which is also near Interstate 75 and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Taylor Fields, Knott's vice president of leasing, says Lee County's steady population and business growth and lack of large contiguous distribution space bode well for the company's development.

Past experience also is playing a role in its decision to move forward without tenants in place.

In 2006, the company developed a four-building industrial project about one mile away from the Meridian Center site. Today, the 216,000 square feet of flex and warehouse space is fully leased, Sanft says.

New industrial space isn't the only sector Knott plans to wade into in Fort Myers, however. Last year the company also spent $5.2 million to buy a 37.6-acre tract at 9851 Ben C. Pratt Six Mile Cypress Parkway, where it is planning an upscale apartment community.

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