East End distribution center sells for $43 million

Hunt Midwest’s Blankenbaker Logistics Center in Louisville, Kentucky, consists of a 322,831-square-foot industrial building, fully leased by automotive supplier Piston Automotive.

An East End facility has a new owner after a $43 million transaction.

Bixby Land Cos., based in Newport Beach, California, purchased the Blankenbaker Logistics Center in a deal that closed in December from Kansas City-based Hunt Midwest, according to the deed. The building is 322,831 square feet, located at 13150 Plantside Drive.

The logistics facility is fully leased by Detroit-based Piston Automotive. Louisville Business First reported in December the company is relocating its operations from 2641 Technology Drive to the Plantside Drive building.

This is Bixby Land Cos. only building in Louisville, the company’s website shows. Across the U.S., it has 62 properties within industrial and office markets.

Bixby’s website said it is a privately held REIT with over $1 billion in assets under management. It acquires, redevelops and operates industrial, logistic, office and R&D properties in select Tier I and Tier II U.S. markets.

I’ve reached out to the company, and this story could be updated.

Blankenbaker Logistics Center was completed by Hunt Midwest in July. Piston Automotive’s move into the facility was an over $30 million investment, which included the cost of leasing and outfitting the building and new hires. The firm plans to hire as many as 102 new employees in 2022. The jobs are expected to pay about $22 an hour.

Piston Automotive President Bob Holloway said in a previous story the move is a sign of the company’s faith in the Greater Louisville region.

“We are thrilled to be able to further invest in the Louisville community. The expansion of our facility and our team is an exciting milestone within our organization that will provide a solid foundation to successfully launch newly awarded products and provide additional capacity to support our continued growth at Piston Automotive,” Holloway said.

The building was fully leased before the construction began. Mike Bell, senior vice president of commercial development at Hunt Midwest, told me last year the automotive company chose that location due to its proximity to a FedEx Ground facility and the Blankenbaker Station business park, developed by Hollenbach and Oakley.

Bell said there are several reasons Piston Automotive was attracted to Louisville. The city has two Ford manufacturing plants, as well as multiple major interstates and UPS Worldport.

“With UPS Worldport, you can supply the world in just a few hours from Louisville,” Bell said. “It’s a really intriguing area.”

I recently reported 2021 was a record breaking year for industrial activity. According to a report from Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Kentucky, overall vacancy rate of 2.3%, the lowest ever in the Louisville market. The East submarket was the lowest with a vacancy rate of 1.2%.

The firm also saw high leasing activity in the fourth quarter. The firm recorded 4.2 million square feet of industrial leasing, bringing the year-to-date total to 11.8 million square feet, 3.7 million square feet more than in 2020.

This month, another large logistics facility with an automotive tenant was purchased. JLL Income Property Trust acquired the South Louisville Distribution Center at 825 Conestoga Parkway in Bullitt County for $39.5 million. The 327,000-square-foot building is leased to Rivian, an electrical vehicle automaker and automotive technology company.