07/15/11 5:48pm

WALMART BUYS BACK ITS BIGGEST BOXES Walmart’s ridiculously humungous Cedar Crossing distribution center near Baytown now belongs to . . . Walmart. Last month the company bought the facility back from its landlord, Texas’s Permanent School Fund, for $104.5 million, or just $4.5 million more than the government entity paid Walmart for it in 2005. The complex consists of 2 separate 2-million-sq.-ft. buildings — encompassing more floor space than 9 Astrodomes — on a 473-acre tract. Under the 30-year lease for the property the company signed with the school fund after the original leaseback, the facility had been exempt from property taxes. [Houston Business Journal; background; awards] Photo: Force Engineering & Testing

04/23/10 12:11pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT 4 MILLION SQ. FT. OF WAL-MART DISTRIBUTION LOOKS LIKE “Also, that Wal-Mart facility (which is not in the picture because is just left of the two large buildings) is HUGE. To put it in perspective, it would be like 10 Reliant Centers or George R. Browns to come close and that was phase 1 back when we did the drainage and utility plan. Phase 2 will double the size. Wal-Mart sees Houston as the point of entry of much of it’s goods in the future than Los Angeles. The expansion of the Panama Canal will make the Port of Houston that much more strategic in trade with Asia.” [kjb434, commenting on Courting the Smiths: We Don’t Care Who You Are, But Please Please Like Us!]

04/23/10 10:20am

What secretive out-of-town company is scouting out a 60-acre tract on the far side of Baytown in the world’s 5th-largest industrial park? The Texas Enterprise Fund and the Greater Houston Partnership likely don’t know either, but both are working hard to get the company to develop its mysterious $200 million facility here, near huge existing Wal-Mart and Home Depot distribution centers.

The HBJ‘s Jennifer Dawson reports that executives from the unknown company have only conducted 6 stealth visits of the property:

Cedar Crossing [Business Park] executives know only that the potential buyer intends to manufacture something large, and that Project 21 is being spearheaded by McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a site-selection company based in Greenville, S.C.

Charles Iupe, general partner of the 15,000-acre industrial park, says he has met with Project 21 executives on several occasions, and they have only given their first names.

During a site visit in February, the incognito executives took a helicopter ride for an aerial view of the location. Before leaving the ground they were required to sign waivers. Each one used “Smith” as a last name.

But surely the brokers must know who these people are . . . ?