Bob Howard’s lease of a large amount of space in an old industrial area of Oklahoma City won’t save the struggling warehouse market, but the deal is important for the city for other reasons, experts said Friday.
Howard PDC, a subsidiary of Bob Howard Auto Group, moved into the warehouse at 3501 N Santa Fe this week, taking 157,059 square feet of the 208,000 square feet available.
Howard is combining several smaller operations and relocating them to the warehouse.
The building, constructed in 1950 as the original headquarters for Fleming Cos., is owned by 36th/Santa Fe LLC, a company of Gardner Properties.
Gardner Properties, president, paid longtime owner Catellus Development Corp., formerly the realty division of what is now Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, $1.7 million for the building last spring. Gardner Properties then spent $200,000 renovating the warehouse.
Don Gable of Arvest Bank arranged financing for Tanenbaum and his business partner Justin C. Gardner to buy and renovate the building.
The building had been vacant for several years. After Gardner Properties renovated it, it suited Howard’s needs perfectly, said Ron Kimbrough, Bob Howard parts director.
“We chose this site for its central location,” Kimbrough said. “But we were concerned with the quick turnaround time we needed to move in. We were amazed that Gardner Properties was able to prepare the property for us in just 34 days. They were excellent. It’s amazing to see the way the old place turned around. It’s just night and day.”
Gardner Construction Co., a subsidiary of Gardner Properties, brought the building up to code, upgrading mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Gardner also renovated the building’s offices, replaced the roof and resurfaced the parking area.
Gardner “was very accommodating in trying to get the deal done,” said Greg C. Banta of Banta Realty Advisors Inc., which handled the lease negotiations for Howard. “Those kinds of deals don’t happen all the time.”
The significance of the deal isn’t just the amount of industrial space it took from the market, said Randy Lacey, associate vice president in the industrial division of Grubb & Ellis-Beffort Brooks Hogan. It will help reduce the 20 percent vacancy rate Grubb & Ellis found in a recent survey of industrial buildings 50,000 square feet and larger, Lacey said.
More important, he said, is the age and kind of space the building has, and the fact that it was vacant for several years.