Avis Farms Flourishes
Business to Business Monthly Magazine
Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce
Date -- March, 2000 - By Bill Milliken, CCIM
The good news is that they are brimming with construction activity. The bad news is that Avis Farms is almost out of land.
Located on State Street, south of I-94 and next to the Ann Arbor Airport, this 170 acre research and business park is clearly riding the tide of the current real estate development boom. Six buildings – representing one-quarter of a million square feet of new commercial space – are in various stages of construction. The largest of them is 100,000 square feet and scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
The Finishing Touch
“The keystone of the park will be 500 Avis Drive,” according to Trish Kalmbach, Avis Farms’ president. This final, 28,000 square foot building, which will be constructed at the Avis Drive entrance to Avis Farms, will not come to market until Spring of 2001, however. First, and as soon as the necessary approvals have been secured, Avis Drive’s intersection on State Street will be realigned to the north to create a common intersection with Morgan Road. This will create the pad site near State Street for the building. Kalmbach also believes the installation of a traffic signal and a center turn lane on State Street are inevitable, but only the Michigan Department of Transportation knows that for sure.
Avis Farms’ business plan since the eighties has been to develop lots in the park for either build-to-suit, or build-to-sell clients. To date, about 500,000 square feet of business and research square footage has been put in place. Kalmbach says over 1,600 people are employed there. The zoning is “business park” (Pittsfield Township), but the developer has imposed some aesthetic restrictions on each of the lots in an effort to cast it as a more upscale development.
Companies on the Move
Some well-known companies in Ann Arbor will relocate to new buildings in Avis Farms this Spring. Domino’s Farms is relinquishing HCIA, a health care consulting company. Next month, HCIA will land in new, 30,000 square foot build-to-suit quarters at 5400 Data Court. The engineering firm McNamee Porter & Seeley will move into 47,000 square feet built out to their specifications at 710 Avis Drive in May. Their Ann Arbor office has been located in Briarwood at 3131 S. State Street.
BlueGill Technologies, that meteoric Ann Arbor startup, will double in size this fall when it expands into an additional 15,000 square feet at its Technology Drive offices. Also, Cummins & Barnard (engineering) and Beyond Interactive, which was just acquired by Gray Advertising Co., each took half of the new 35,000 square foot building at 5405 Data Court in January.
According to Colliers International broker Cam McCausland, Avis’ leasing agent, two “spec” buildings are under construction and scheduled for completion this fall. They are 20,000 and 25,000 square feet, respectively. McCausland is confident they will both lease up prior to completion.
J. S. Vig Construction Company of Taylor, Michigan and the Heil Partnership (architects) are frontline players at Avis Farms -- and responsible for most of the recent buildings. Atwell Hicks, which also happens to be an established tenant in the development, is the civil engineering firm of record.
Avis Farms “South” Pending
Avis Farms’ management has been trumpeting Avis Farms South for several years. Although their enthusiasm for this 140,000 acre annex was not initially shared by Pittsfield Township officials, the prospects for its development now appear imminent. And, in light of the success of Avis Farms, their timing is impeccable.
“The net, buildable acreage is about 100 acres,” according to Greg Copp, Avis Farms’ vice president of development. This is the resulting figure after subtracting roadway rights-of-way, setbacks, wetlands and so forth from the gross acreage. But it may still yield about 800,000 square feet of rentable space for their portfolio, slightly more than Avis Farms itself.
Avis Farms South is located a half mile south on State Street, on the southeast corner of State Street and Textile Road. Construction is scheduled in three phases, and two “spec” buildings (70,000 and 77,500 square feet, respectively) are planned for mid-2001 completion. Provided the necessary Washtenaw County Road Commission, Drain Commission and Pittsfield Township approvals are in hand, Copp says, “We ought to be in the ground this Spring.”
For More Information Contact:
Bill Milliken, CCIM
Milliken Realty Company
100 Huron View Blvd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Property listing data is based on information believed accurate & reliable. However, accuracy is not guaranteed.
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