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In one of the biggest industrial real estate deals of the year, Auburn Hills-based Chrysler Group LLC signed a 400,000-square-foot lease in Redford Township.
The deal brought the 800,000-square-foot building from 35 percent occupancy to 87 percent occupancy, according to a statement from Farmington Hills-based Premier Equities, the real estate investment company run by David Friedman, which owns the building with Southfield-based General Development Co.
Chrysler will now use the space for parts distribution.
The building near Telegraph Road and I-96 was once used by Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. for logistics. However, it has been largely vacant for the past few years.
The largest industrial deal of the year was the renewal of 632,000 square feet of space by U.S. Manufacturing Corp. in Macomb Township, according to Washington, D.C.-based CoStar Group.
However, the Chrysler deal represents the biggest new lease of the year, topping the 320,000-square-foot lease by Tognum America Inc. in Brownstown.
– Daniel Duggan
There were plenty of ear-to-ear smiles in Auburn Hills for the ground-breaking to celebrate the 55,000-square-foot headquarters for Henniges Automotive today.
Yeah, people are always happy at those events.
But this one was significant for a couple of reasons. The obvious: There have been very, very few of these events in recent history.
But the not-so-obvious reason for excitement on the deal is the math. Robert DePierre, CEO for the company, told me a little bit about his exhaustive search for office space. Buildings on the north side, east side and west side were all considered and then thrown out, he said.
“We looked at a lot of buildings and no one building had what we needed,” DePierre said.
Finding the combination of contiguous space, an additional lab component to be combined with the office space, and obviously the right price, was harder than it seems, he told me.
Matt Farrell, executive principal with Core Partners, and Randy Thomas, principal with InSite Commercial Group, the two brokers in the deal, said that the idea of new construction came up and proved to be a savings for Henniges compared to what he was paying in rent in Farmington Hills and compared to some of the rental options out there.
People talk all the time about how high the vacancy rate is for office space in metro Detroit, ranging from 15 percent to as high as 30 percent in some areas. But at the end of the day, brokers tell me over and over that Class A companies looking for Class A space have a very limited number of options.
While the cost to put up a building remains expensive, there are some exceptions to be found, as in this case. Driving the deal is that it’s in the Oakland Technology Park; land that was purchased for a song-and-a-dance from Chrysler in bankruptcy.
With the low land cost, Schostak Bros. & Co. is developing the building to lease to Henniges at a price competitive to using an existing building.
“As Michiganders, we have to benefit from moments like these,” said Gary Weisman, a principal with General Development Co., one of the owners of the park.
Weisman went on to say that through the tough times come great opportunities, such as the Oakland Technology Park. They bought 211 acres for $2.5 million – a price that would have landed them 6 acres of land in that park in 2006.
But it’s that ridiculous land cost that put the Henniges deal in the position to compete with existing buildings. It means bad news for development on land that people still value at $400,000 an acre, but good news for Weisman and his partners as they finish their second building in the park and think about doing more.
“After the meltdown, we begin anew,” Weisman said.
But at a lower price, he should have added.
The Farmington Hills-based auto supplier Henniges Automotive North America Inc. is set to break ground as early as next month on a 55,000-square-foot headquarters in Auburn Hills.
The deal marks the second in the Oakland Technology Park — former Chrysler Group LLC land purchased in March 2010 by Southfield-based General Development Co.
While General Development will develop the building, Livonia-based Schostak Bros & Co. will own it and lease it to Henniges, said Randy Thomas, president of Southfield-based Insite Group. Insite brokered brokered the deal along with Matt Farrell, executive principal with Birmingham-based Core Partners LLC.
Thomas said Henniges will move into a building that is smaller and more energy-efficient than its current headquarters. The developers will seek LEED certification for the building.
“It’s a deal that means a bottom-line savings in both rental costs and energy costs,” he said. “They’re right-sizing their space and getting a new, LEED-certified building, with a cost savings as well.”
Henniges Automotive, which also has offices in Germany and China, manufactures automotive sealing systems for doors, windows, trunks, liftgates, sunroofs and hoods, according to its website. It also supplies the automotive market with anti-vibration products, encapsulated glass, obstacle detection systems and other rubber components. It sells to all major automakers and has 4,500 employees worldwide.
In November, Chicago-based Wynnchurch Capital Partners sold Henniges Automotive to Greenwich, Conn.-based Littlejohn & Co. LLC for an undisclosed sum.
The company currently occupies a 75,000-square-foot building in the Farmington Hills Corporate Campus, according to the Washington, D.C.-based CoStar Group.
The deal continues General Development’s momentum in the park.
The Southfield-based company bought 211 acres from Chrysler’s liquidation arm, Old Carco L.L.C., for $2.5 million. The land had been valued as high as $400,000 an acre several years ago.
U.S. Farathane Corp. was the first to develop in the park, with the construction of a 78,000-square-foot building. It started as a lease and was later converted to a sale, with Farathane buying the building for $15 million and paying $2 million for some of the land around the building.
The holding company for the former Chrysler Corp. is closing today on the sale of 211 acres in Auburn Hills to a Southfield-based developer.
The property is the undeveloped portion of the vast Auburn Hills complex called Oakland Technology Park.
While some portions of the property were valued at as high as $400,000 per acre in past years, the entire 211 acres sold for $2.5 million, according to bankruptcy court documents.
It was purchased by General Development Co., said owner Gary Weisman.
Weisman, who has developed property in Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills for 25 years, said the land represents a great opportunity. He plans to create a corporate campus on the site, drawing medical, industrial, office and other corporate tenants over the long term.
General Development has built several sites in Auburn Hills, such as an $80 million facility for United Solar Ovonic L.L.C. in Auburn Hills in 2005 and a three-building complex totaling 158,000 square feet in 2000 along the I-75 corridor.
Weisman said the sale has been approved by the bankruptcy court and the final closing documents are being signed this afternoon.
“We are open for business,” Weisman said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to continue developing property in an area that has been a sweet spot for us.”
He declined to verify the sale price.
The “notice of proposed sale” document filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court indicates the property was sold for $2.5 million. UGL-Equis Corp. represented Chrysler as a broker, the document states.
The property purchased is between I-75 and Squirrel Road, north of the Chrysler L.L.C. headquarters.
Weisman said there are no buildings on the land, but there are paved roads, street lights and property that is ready to be developed.
Weisman said he and co-owner, Bruce Brickman, have been on the sidelines for the last few years waiting for the right purchase opportunity to come along.
“We’ve kept our powder dry waiting for the right deal,” Weisman said. “This was it.”
Ryan Beene contributed to this report
Though Rochester Hills is often considered a bedroom community, industrial real estate brokers would beg to differ.
The industrial corridors near Hamlin Road, Crooks Road and M-59 have become among the most active in the area.
Buildings put up in the past 10 years are unlike the older manufacturing buildings in nearby Troy and Warren, fueling activity for companies looking for new images, said Peter Kepic Sr., a principal in the Southfield office of Colliers International.
He recently represented Southfield-based Thyssen Krupp Materials N.A. in a deal for 53,000 square feet of space at 2923 Technology Drive. After an extensive search, he said the image of Rochester Hills appealed to the company.
“They wanted an updated image,” he said. “That’s a high-tech corridor, and it fits the image of being a modern, updated, technology-driven company.”
In addition, two companies given grants by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. took space in the area: Rochester Hills-based fluid-handling company Rayconnect Inc. and Israel-based vapor valve company Raval USA.
Rayconnect plans to spend $14.5 million on a new plastics injection-molding assembly plant and headquarters. Raval plans a $7 million design, development and manufacturing center.
Dan Casey, manager of economic development for Rochester Hills, said the recent deals build momentum that will yield more deals in the future.
The Rayconnect development, for example, will be built on 25 acres of vacant land near M-59 and Crooks Road. Among the incentives for the company is a new industrial road providing access to the land.
“We could see another 300,000 square feet of development in the area from that road,” Casey said.
In addition, the city plans to widen Hamlin Road between Crooks and Livernois roads and is taking advantage of greater access to the corridors with the new Adams Road exit from M-59.
Transportation has become a major selling point, said Kris Pawlowski, a sales associate with Southfield-based Signature Associates.
“You have quick access to M-59, you’re seconds from I-75,” he said. “You’re west of the Mound corridor, just south of Chrysler, and you can head to Telegraph and get to I-275. It’s a location that will hold its value.”
His client Hot Melt Technologies Inc. looked at buildings in Auburn Hills, Shelby Township and other industrial hubs when it was considering a move from its longtime home on Hamlin Road, Pawlowski said.
After the search, the company decidied to build a new headquarters and plant next door to its current location.
Occupancy in the area is strong.
The area bounded by Auburn Road to the north, Livernois to the east, Hamlin to the south and Crooks to the west includes 104 industrial buildings and had a vacancy rate of 8.7 percent at the end of the second quarter, according to data from Bethesda, Md.-based CoStar Group. That figure is down from a five-year high in the first quarter of 2004 of 14.4 percent.
The city of Rochester Hills had a 7.2 percent vacancy rate at the end of the second quarter for industrial and flex properties. Current asking rate is $6.24 per square foot.
CoStar listed a 12.2 percent vacancy rate for the metro Detroit area with an asking rate of $5.06 per square foot.
Gary Weisman, owner of Southfield-based developer General Development Co., has built more than 1 million square feet in that corridor since 1984. He said it has become a place known for new buildings.
“We’ve looked at M-59 as the dividing line in terms of where to own products with the best opportunities for customers, but will also bring a return on our investments that’s better than the rate of inflation,” he said.
Daniel Duggan: (313) 446-0414, email@example.com