Robert K. Mericle, President of Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, has announced the “ReadyToGo!™ ” Program, a major investment in new speculative buildings and fully prepared sites that are expected to facilitate the creation and retention of thousands of local jobs.
According to Mericle Vice President of Marketing Jim Cummings, the Company plans to fully prepare more than 90 ReadyToGo!™ Sites and build dozens of speculative commercial buildings on approximately 1,700 acres it owns in 10 business parks in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties.
Cummings said Mericle has designed the ReadyToGo!™ Program for small and large businesses needing manufacturing, distribution, office, or medical space.
Rosemary Dessoye, Executive Vice President of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, said Mericle’s ReadyToGo!™ Program will make Northeastern Pennsylvania’s economic development groups the envy of others in the United States. “We compete against more than 2,000 economic developers for new jobs every day,” she said. “I’m not aware of any in the entire country that are able to offer the variety of fully prepared sites and buildings that we will now have in our inventory.”
“This is a game changer,” added Dessoye. “We now have an edge when we are trying to win projects. “The ReadyToGo!™ Program will make it much easier for our local chambers to convert prospect leads into family sustaining jobs. This will have a positive impact on our economy for decades.”
For its ReadyToGo!™ Sites, Mericle obtains all permits and full subdivision, land development, and utility approvals. In most cases, all grading, including the placement of compacted stone sub-base in the building and pavement areas is completed and the parcels are made completely ready for immediate construction.
“Perception is reality,” said Dessoye. “If a prospect can drive up, walk the site, see that it is flat and free of trees and rocks, they can more easily visualize their building, parking areas, and access. It makes the site more appealing and the decision to go with such a site is made more easily than one that is inaccessible or in its original state. It’s the next closest thing to having a building built.”
Cummings said most developers are not willing to undertake speculative development of this magnitude because of the uncertainty and financial risk involved.
“Because of the requirement for the immediate outlay of significant financial resources to prepare pads and construct buildings on speculation, most developers wait until they have a ‘bird-in-hand’ to break ground,” said Cummings. “But our experience tells us that when you have a variety of existing options available that clients can see and touch, your chances of winning projects greatly increase.”
Speculative buildings and sites are those developed without commitments from tenants said Cummings.
Cummings said Mericle was inspired to create the ReadyToGo!™ Program because of its success in the recently-completed Phase I section of CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park East in Jenkins Township.
“Our model of developing buildings and sites on speculation proved to be the right one,” Cummings said. “The success of Phase I convinced us that accelerating our development schedule through our new ReadyToGo!™ Program will lead to more successful projects for our Company and more jobs for Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Cummings said Mericle had initially committed to developing just over 3,000,000 square feet of space in Phase I that would house approximately 2,400 jobs. With the recent completion of Phase I, Mericle has exceeded that initial commitment by developing 4.1 million square feet and recruiting 23 tenants that together employ more than 2,700 workers.
He said all of the buildings in CenterPoint East and West, including the new Neiman Marcus east coast distribution center that will soon house 151 jobs in CenterPoint East’s Phase IIA section, total 5.5 million square feet and are home to 31 companies employing more than 3,400 people.
Cummings said the major advantage a Ready to Go Site brings to a client is speed.
“Within just five months of the signing of a lease, we can construct a new facility and have it ready for a tenant on any of our ReadyToGo!™ Sites,” said Cummings. “By comparison, it would typically take a competing developer 12 to 24 months to obtain all permits and approvals, prepare a site, and construct a new facility.”
“We don’t think there are very many, if any, communities throughout the entire country that will be able to match our five month timetable to occupancy,” he said.
Mericle has already completed more than 30 ReadyToGo!™ Sites of various sizes in CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park East, CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park West, the Corporate Center at East Mountain, and the Jessup Small Business Center. Mericle is constructing speculative industrial, office, and flex buildings on several of those parcels.
Mericle recently constructed a 108,839 square foot speculative flex building on a ReadyToGo!™ Site in CenterPoint West in Pittston Township and a 25,200 square foot speculative office building on a ReadyToGo!™ Site at the entrance to the Corporate Center at East Mountain in Plains Township. In early 2012, Mericle began constructing a 120,000 square foot speculative flex building on a ReadyToGo!™ Site in CenterPoint East, a 42,000 square foot speculative office building in the East Mountain Corporate Center and a 96,000 square foot speculative flex building in the Jessup Small Business Center.
Mericle’s ReadyToGo!™ Sites range from 1.15 acres to 125 acres and can accommodate companies needing buildings from less than 5,000 square feet to more than 1.4 million square feet. Mericle expects the sites to be attractive to manufacturers, distributors, medical professionals and a variety of office and business services firms.
Cummings said the company’s ReadyToGo!™ Program will help stem what has historically been a very frustrating problem for local economic developers.
“There were many occasions over the years when our economic development community would convince companies that Northeastern Pennsylvania was their best option only to lose the projects because we didn’t have ready-to-go sites or modern buildings immediately available,” Cummings said. “The companies would look at the region’s sites, which often were scarred from coal mining, and have a hard time visualizing their new facilities. The rough conditions of the sites would scare them and their jobs to other areas. Now, we can show them new buildings and sites that are fully approved and improved in business parks that are adjacent to Interstate highways.”
Mericle is preparing additional ReadyToGo!™ Sites in the newest phases in CenterPoint East and is developing plans to work on two large sites in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazle Township. The pads Mericle develops in Humboldt will be able to accommodate more than 1.8 million square feet of new industrial facilities.
“Having product available has always been the key to successfully attracting new jobs to the Hazleton Area,” said CAN DO President Kevin O’Donnell. “In today’s fast paced business environment, companies need to know that they can have a facility constructed to fit their needs when they need it. Mericle’s ReadyToGo!™ Program does this by completing the time-consuming planning and permitting process in advance. In CAN DO’s Humboldt Industrial Park, Mericle proved time and time again that they can do it and do it right.”
Mericle has also performed design and/or excavation work on sites in Grimes Industrial Park in Pittston Township, Valley View Business Park in Jessup Borough, CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park South in Jenkins Township, and Hanover Crossings and Hanover Industrial Estates in Hanover Township. Mericle will make those sites completely ready for new buildings via the ReadyToGo!™ Program.
“When we add to our region’s inventory of ready-to-go real estate options, we increase the chances that we will be able to meet a particular company’s real estate needs,” said Larry Newman, Vice President of Planning, Policy, & Development of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry. “Simply put, a greater variety of ready-to-go product makes us more competitive – and, in today’s marketplace, that’s critically important.”
Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce President Charles Adonizio III said, “When site selectors tour the area, their main concerns are typically timelines and location. In this day and age it seems we are all in a hurry, wanting everything done sooner than later, yesterday instead of tomorrow. We have always had the strategic location along the I-81 Corridor, now we have the ready to go sites that give us an additional edge.”
Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce President Austin Burke stressed the importance of having a variety of buildings and fully improved sites available when communities strive to create and retain jobs. “Our history has shown us that having properties readily available is like having cars on the showroom floor,” he said. “They are critical if you want to make a quick sale.”
Burke added that Mericle’s track record “gives them the credibility for me to say their investment today means jobs for us tomorrow.”
Mericle uses its own resources to prepare the ReadyToGo!™ pads and construct the buildings. The company’s in-house design team, engineers, construction employees, and heavy equipment operators all contribute to the effort. “We do all of the planning and construction ourselves,” said Cummings. “That helps moves things along very quickly and cost effectively.”
“As we make progress filling our spec buildings we will construct more,” Cummings said. “Putting the parcels in ready to go condition means that we can get new spec buildings up in record time.”
Cummings said Mericle plans to develop more than 15 million square feet of space on the more than 1,700 acres. At present, more than 12,000 people work in the more than 16 million square feet developed locally by Mericle since 1986. Cummings said he believes the ReadyToGo!™ Program will continue to maintain and accelerate the Company’s speculative building program and will result in the creation and retention of approximately 12,000 more jobs.
To learn more about the ReadyToGo!™ Sites and ReadyToGo!™ Buildings that have been prepared by Mericle, please click here.
Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, founded by Rob Mericle, is a vertically-integrated company with more than 200 in-house professionals with expertise in all aspects of commercial real estate development and construction. The Mericle team includes licensed architects, land planners, professional engineers, surveyors, licensed electricians, plumbers, carpenters, certified public accountants, in-house legal counsel, leasing and marketing professionals, licensed brokers, property managers, and more.