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Construction and preleasing of large industrial properties has been driving Solano County commercial real estate activity in the last 12 months.

With more than 800,000 square feet of warehouse and other industrial space completed in Solano and Napa counties in the first quarter of this year and nearly as much space under construction, to have the area’s vacancy rate virtually unchanged speaks to “strong demand” for industrial real estate there, according to new reports from Colliers International’s Fairfield office.

The industrial vacancy rate in Solano and Napa counties was 6.2 percent of now 50.6 million square feet in the first quarter, basically unchanged from the end of last year after about 800,000 square feet of net absorption, Colliers estimated.

Berlin Packaging & Blue Apron

1 Cordelia Road, Fairfield

The largest North Bay construction project for a commercial building in the last 12 months was preleased before completion. Panattoni Development, backed by MetLife, started construction on the Gateway80 Business Park project in the Cordelia area of south Fairfield a year ago on the first two 430,500-square-foot distribution warehouses of what was to be a three-building project.

After the acquisition of two major North Coast wine bottle suppliers in as many years, Chicago-based Berlin Packaging in March took occupancy of the first warehouse to be completed. The full move-in is set for October.

It’s part of a concerted effort to expand Berlin Packaging into the wine industry and into the Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. In November 2015, Berlin Packaging acquired Fairfield-based Diablo Valley Packaging. Last November, Berlin purchased Italy-based Bruni Glass, a specialist in high-end glass packaging with locations including a facility near Diablo Valley Packaging in Fairfield’s Solano Business Park.

Blue Apron leased the other warehouse, which is set to be completed later this year. Because Blue Apron plans to staff it with as many as 1,000 employees, the site for the third building was repurposed for a parking lot.

The new 495,000-square-foot Linden, N.J., facility and the one going into the Gateway80 Business Park project on Cordelia Road in south Fairfield just off Interstate 80 will complement Blue Apron’s existing fulfillment centers. The company plans to operate both Fairfield and Richmond sites.

Glen Dowling, Matt Bracco and Chris Neeb of JLL represented both Berlin Packaging and Panattoni in the Gateway80 lease. Chris Watts of JLL also represented Berlin.

North Bay Logistics Center

5195 Fermi Drive, Fairfield

Around the beginning of March, beverage packaging supplier O-I (Owens-Illinois) signed a long-term renewal of its lease of the hulking 607,208-square-foot building. It’s one of the largest distribution warehouses in Solano County, and this was the second-largest lease in Solano in the last 24 months, according to Matt Bracco, who led the Dowling-Bracco Team of JLL in brokering the deal for Gramercy Property Trust.

Gramercy, a real estate investment trust with holdings worldwide, purchased the building in December for $54 million, or $88.93 per square foot. It was part of a $521 million portfolio sale of 17 bulk logistics properties in several markets across the country by USAA.

Lowenberg

2102 Courage Drive, Farifield

The San Francisco-based Lowenberg family of real estate investors expanded their North Bay holdings earlier this year with the purchase of the 212,802-square-foot warehouse. It was one of the largest sales so far this year.

Glen Dowling lead the Dowling-Bracco Team of JLL in representing Lowenberg Corporation. Ryan McShane of Colliers International represented seller WB Warehousing & Logistics of Stockton.

The largest recent industrial sale in the county in 2017 so far was Lowenberg Corporation’s purchase of 2102 Courage Drive in Fairfield, a. The property was purchased as an investment transaction for $17.5 million, or $82.24 per square foot.

Olive Oil Factory

770 Chadbourne Road, Fairfield

Critelli Olive Oil company, dba Olive Oil Factory, outgrew its previous site after 20 years at the same Fairfield location and moved down the road in July 2016 to occupy this new warehouse, built by Sacramento-based Buzz Oates Construction. The 95,000-square-foot facility was designed to expand production and have a tasting and hospitality center. Called Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil and Winery, the center has a wine bar and fireplace.

DC Solar

589–635 Indiana St., Benicia

The solar energy company expanded its warehouse lease with Equity Office Properties, totaling 164,000 square feet, for storage of solar panels.

Matt Bracco lead the JLL team for EOP; Dave Granger of CRS, for DC Solar.

Jeff Quackenbush (jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256) covers wine, real estate and construction.