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  Firm plans Hampton warehouses
As port traffic increases, more businesses are developing storage sites for other companies.

Hampton, VA -- Febuary 2, 2005 -- Richmond-based developer Devon U.S.A. has purchased 46 acres in Copeland Industrial Park in Hampton, and the company plans to develop two large warehouse sites to serve the growing number of companies using the Port of Hampton Roads.

Devon recently purchased the land for $2 million from bankrupt retailer Spiegel, said Ed Mitchell, vice president of Devon. The company plans to build a total of 650,000 square feet, about half the size of Patrick Henry Mall.

Mitchell said construction on the first building, a 418,000-square-foot building valued at $20 million, should start this spring.

Construction on a second building will depend on market demand.

"There are many companies looking to bring in product through the Port of Hampton Roads," Mitchell said.

"We spent three years looking at all available property in Hampton Roads where we could build warehouse product to accommodate the port business."

Mitchell said 224,000 square feet in the first building had been leased to American Port Services, a company that provides warehousing, handling and transportation for clients using the ports in Hampton Roads.

American Port Services is partnering with Devon and is the lead tenant in the Hampton project.

As port traffic continues to increase annually, companies - many from outside the area - are recognizing that there's a market for new industrial buildings that will cater to companies using the ports in Hampton Roads.

Denver-based developer Triumph Real Estate Corp. recently announced that it planned to build a warehouse on 10 acres in Suffolk Industrial Park.

Locally, Liberty Property Trust, a real estate investment trust, has announced that it plans to capture some of the port business with three new warehouses on 33 acres in Bridgeway Commerce Park in Suffolk.

With the increase in port activity, Suffolk - with its large tracts of available land at cost-effective prices - has become a popular spot for investors looking to cash in on the port business, said Tom O'Grady, director of economic development for Suffolk.

"In the past six to eight months, inquires for available space, or companies looking for raw land to build on, are up by 25 percent," O'Grady said.

"And the reason is the port activity."

Mitchell said his company was also looking to build more warehouse space on 75 acres in Suffolk.

"This would be a similar project, but it would be larger because there's more land," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the Hampton purchase ended a three-year search for property in Hampton Roads.

Devon U.S.A. owns 3 million square feet in four parks in the Richmond market.


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