EMC buys room to grow

The data storer gains 450,0000 square feet in Durham as it prepares to expand.

Staff WriterOctober 27, 2009 

Data storage company EMC Corp., which last month announced plans to expand its Triangle operations, has bought a 450,000-square-foot distribution center in Durham.

The company bought the property, Essex Center, for $22.6 million from Crown Realty and Development of Irvine, Calif.

The distribution center is in the Imperial Center business park, near Research Triangle Park.

Essex Center was one of a group of properties Crown Realty bought in December 2007.

Crown Realty paid $113 million for 1.58 million square feet of office, flex and industrial space in Imperial Center. Essex Center had a tax value of $19.45 million as of Jan 1.

EMC spokesman Patrick Cooley said the new facility willhouse some of the company's research and development laboratories and data centers, support the company's manufacturing operations in the state and provide infrastructure for growth.

EMC said last month that it plans to add 397 jobs in the Triangle and build a $280 million data center in Durham County.

EMC, which has facilities in RTP and Apex, was offered more than $8 million in state and local incentives to expand in the Triangle.

Sanmina-SCI, an electronics manufacturer, leases 315,000 square feet in Essex Center; the remaining 135,000 square feet is vacant.

EMC's purchase is the latest sign that the market for warehouse space around RTP has rebounded and remains strong. Vacancy rates reached as high as 36 percent in 2002 following the technology-sector bust.

The warehouse vacancy rate in the Interstate 40/RTP submarket was 9.7 percent at the end of the second quarter, according to Karnes Research of Raleigh. That was 2percent lower than the warehouse vacancy rate for the Triangle.

Chris Norvell, a broker with Colliers Pinkard who represented Crown Realty in the sale, said Class A industrial space such as Essex Center is in demand, and much of it is in the RTP submarket.

The warehouse market continues to benefit from having a variety of tenants in different industries, Norvell said, unlike earlier in the decade when it relied heavily on companies such as IBM and Nortel Networks.

"Anytime you sell a 450,000-square-foot building or take 135,000 square feet off the market in a down market, it is good news," he said.

david.bracken@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4548

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