$4M land deal signals start of Sauer Industrial Center

A conceptual rendering of one of the industrial buildings planned for the first phase of Sauer Industrial Center. (BizSense file images)

A massive new industrial park near Richmond International Airport is a step closer to moving forward with the closing of a seven-figure land deal.

Becknell Industrial paid $4.26 million for 83 acres that make up the bulk of the planned first phase of Sauer Industrial Center, a 450-acre site just south of RIC that local developer Sauer Properties plans to ultimately fill with 3.3 million square feet of Class A industrial space.

Sauer Properties was the seller on the larger of two parcels involved in the deal: a 75-acre tract that sold July 22. While part of the same deal, an adjoining 3-acre parcel owned by Gerald and Patricia Merridew was recorded as having sold Aug. 2, according to Henrico County property records. The two parcels fill the northeast corner of the Airport Drive-Pocahontas Parkway interchange.

While those parcels fall about 5 acres short of the total amount of land that Becknell bought, Ashley Peace, president of Sauer Properties, attributed the difference to non-taxable right-of-way that conveyed as part of the deal.

Online property records did not include recent assessment data for the 75-acre parcel.

A map of the Sauer Industrial Center site, oriented with the right side as north.

Becknell’s purchase does not include three additional parcels that make up the rest of the Phase 1 site. Peace said Sauer Properties, which still owns those parcels, will develop them itself.

The purchase clears the way for Becknell to start construction on two warehouse buildings totaling about 726,000 square feet, according to the company. The Indiana-based developer previously filed plans with Henrico that called for a larger footprint, with about 100,000 more square feet.

The larger building will now total nearly 446,700 square feet and will be a cross-docked facility. The other building, a rear-load configuration, will total about 279,300 square feet.

Becknell is aiming for completion of both buildings in May 2022. It’s working with investment manager Ares Management on the project, which will include car and on-site trailer parking and building features such as Early Suppression Fast Response sprinkler systems and LED lighting with motion sensors.

Peace said Becknell has one of the buildings leased and deferred to Becknell for confirmation on the user. A call to a Becknell spokeswoman was not returned Friday.

Clifford Porter with Porter Realty is handling leasing for the buildings and represented Becknell in its land purchase.

Elevation renderings of the proposed first phase of buildings.

The buildings kick off what’s planned to be a multi-phase development, with Sauer Properties developing two subsequent phases that would fill Sauer-controlled land on the west side of Airport Drive to as far as Laburnum Avenue.

Peace said the company is finalizing a conceptual layout for the rest of the industrial center site. She said efforts to market those facilities to potential users could start in a matter of weeks.

No stranger to the area, Becknell developed the nearby Airport Distribution Center just west of the Sauer Industrial Center site. Earlier this year, it sold four properties there, along with another at 8750 Park Central Drive in northern Henrico, to New York-based Raith Capital Partners for $65 million.

Becknell also is signed on to develop a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center for Lowe’s Home Improvement in Hanover County.

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