Rail logistics center starting construction
By Scott Blake
Proponents of the South Florida Logistics Center talk about the project like it's the missing piece of Miami's cargo puzzle.
Create a cluster of distribution and warehouse facilities with access to a rail line, they have said, and it will all come together.
Coral Gables-based commercial real estate company Flagler is spearheading the Logistic Center in Hialeah to offer businesses inland storage space with rail and trucking connections for cargo moving in and out Port Miami and Miami International Airport.
That vision is starting to take hold, as Flagler is developing a 170,000-square-foot distribution facility there, said Manuel Fernandez, Flagler's executive vice president of logistics operations.
Construction is set to begin this month for the facility, which is to open in January 2013.
"The South Florida Logistics Center is the first development of Class-A industrial property east of the Palmetto Expressway in more than three decades," Mr. Fernandez said in a statement to Miami Today.
"Its modern construction and amenities," he added, "coupled with its proximity to Miami International Airport and rail access to Port Miami and Port Everglades, will make it unique to South Florida's businesses looking for a competitive advantage for their logistics needs."
The land set aside for the Logistics Center covers about 144 acres of a 400-acre site owned by Flagler that also includes the Florida East Coast Railway intermodal yard, commonly known as the Hialeah Rail Yard.
The Logistics Center site is bounded by Northwest 32nd Street on the south, Rosedale Drive on the north, Northwest 67th Avenue on the east and Northwest 72nd Avenue on the west.
Florida East Coast Industries Inc., the parent company of Jacksonville-based Florida East Coast Railway, conducts business at Flagler. The firm owns, manages, leases or has under development about 13 million square feet of Class-A office and industrial space in Florida, according to the company's website.
In January, Flagler announced the arrival of Mr. Fernandez to spearhead development of the Logistics Center as well as the company's newly launched logistics business.
"The addition of Manny to our team meaningfully extends our business capabilities beyond our core commercial real estate expertise," Flagler President Vincent Signorello said in a statement.
He cited Mr. Fernandez's "deep international logistics experience, knowledge of the end-to-end supply chain and strong business relationships throughout Latin America."
Flagler is owned by private equity funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC.
The Logistics Center is part of bigger plan, partnering Flagler with Port Miami, to grow South Florida's cargo industry.
The plan includes the reactivation of Florida East Coast Railway's freight rail into the seaport, currently underway, with links inland to the Rail Yard and Logistics Center.
"There's no successful cargo port in America that doesn't have a rail link," said Husein Cumber, executive vice president of corporate development for Florida East Coast Railway.
The idea is to attract large retail chains and shipping companies to the Logistics Center through the increased rail links to the rail yard and rail lines along the Florida east coast and beyond.
"With that in mind," Mr. Fernandez said about the Logistics Center, "we have a strategic vision to provide our logistic capabilities support to those tenants who are in need of such services, while creating a facility that is equally conducive for tenants that have developed their own logistics operations."
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