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Posted April 4, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Warren showing 'flex'-ibility

Eric Simons organizes a job
Eric Simons organizes a job at his DealerDirect Marketing business in the Kelley Industrial Park north of Front Royal. Dennis Grundman/Daily

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County is filling a need for lower-cost industrial and corporate real estate by touting one of its strengths: location.

A number of large flex-tech buildings have popped up recently near the Virginia Inland Port, and space is going fast.

Mike Silek, senior commercial specialist with Adams Nelson & Associates, reports brokering four leases in the area in a single week.

"Leases seem to be carrying things right now until the banks let up a little bit on lending," he said. "A lot of companies are procuring space while rates are low and holding it, or leasing it out on the back end."

The inland port, an intermodal freight transfer station off U.S. 340-522, north of the Interstate 66 interchange, is a huge draw for Warren County, Silek said.

"I call it a commercial and industrial amenity. There's a lot of existing product out there that can be delivered in a matter of days. The inland port is ideal for that.

"And prices [for flex-tech space in the area] are very competitive, as competitive as any across the commonwealth."

The LeHew Building, a new 30,000-square-foot structure in the nearby Kelley Industrial Park, is about one-third leased, and Silek said he has two or three "viable tenants" looking to take the remaining space.

Owner Jeff LeHew's other clients in the industrial park include Dish Network and Via Satellite.

One of the building's new tenants is DealerDirect Marketing. Until recently, Vice President Eric Simons, of Strasburg, and his partners worked out of an office in Northern Virginia.

"We decided to lease office space, reduce travel, increase production time and get off the highway," he said. "The Front Royal area was our preferred location ... due to its tremendous growth over the past few years."

DealerDirect Marketing specializes in direct mail featuring four-color digital printing as well as e-mail marketing. The company began as the advertising arm of an Alexandria auto dealership and is now branching into the restaurant and retail sectors. It has also developed proprietary direct-mail Internet response applications.

Another of LeHew's new tenants, Mar Cor Purification, which provides water treatment services for clients in the medical field, also relocated from the Northern Virginia area earlier this year.

"The building we worked out of in Manassas was sold, so we had to move fast," said Product Manager Mike Verguldi. "That's when we found Jeff's building in Warren County via the Internet. We're very happy with our facility."

Mar Cor has 19 service centers throughout North America. The local office will serve customers in the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia region.

In a statement, Jennifer McDonald, executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, said the new additions to the Kelley Industrial Park are an example of the "spirit of entrepreneurship that brings technology and innovation to our community."

Another commercial property is going up in the shadow of the LeHew Building. Silek said the space is owned by Walt Moyer, founder of Moyer Motor Cars, a local Rolls Royce and Bentley dealer, and will be used for specialty purposes.

Meanwhile, a building in the Happy Creek Technology Park in Warren County has about 25,000 square feet available for rent. The owner, Al Foster, is using the remainder of the building for office space and a warehouse.

"The future is bright," Silek said of local commercial development. "It's a really promising area."

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