A new business park is slated for the development of a commercial business park at the site of Needham Ranch, sitting between Highway 14 and downtown Newhall. Long eyed by developers, Trammell Crow Company and investor Clarion Partners announced Thursday they have acquired 54 acres of land for The Center. Phase one of the project is part of a larger 132-acre site approved for up 4.2 million square feet of industrial space. Phase one is scheduled to break ground this month and expected to begin delivering commercial space during the third quarter of 2018. It covers 869,760 Square Feet and plans to include seven buildings. “This is an incredible site, strategically located with easy access to the San Fernando Valley, Burbank Airport, LAX, Downtown LA and the ports,” said Philip Tsui, Vice President within TCC SoCal – Los Angeles in a statement. “It truly is the Center as there are nearly 5.3 million people living within a 30-minute commute from this site. It doesn’t get much more central than that.” The buildings will range in size from 34,270 to 210,560 square feet, situated in a natural park-like setting amidst abundant open space. Needham Ranch originally belonged to prohibitionist Henry Clay Needham, who bought the property in 1889, according to the SCV Historical Society. In 1957 his heirs sold about 770 acres of the property to Mark Gates Sr., the funeral director at Eternal Valley Cemetery. Gates later sold off the 220-acre cemetery portion. In the late 1990s, Gates’ son, Mark Jr., planned to develop the remaining 584 acres as the Gate-King Industrial Park. Those plans were shelved in the mid-2000s. In June of this year, water retailer Newhall County Water District (NCWD) met with the developer to find out what was required for the new project and was poised to lay pipes for one of the largest commercial projects under development in Los Angeles County. NCWD entered into an agreement of construction of “water system improvements” with the initial developer, Gate King Properties in April 2010. The agreement called for making water improvements that would serve the project. It is under a 15-year development agreement that was approved on July 15, 2009. In that time, local environmentalists have voiced their opposition to the project saying they believe there would be a devastating effect on the natural area that links the San Gabriel and Santa Susanna mountains. Others, however, say the property is ideal for the acreage that has sat vacant for years when the need for commercial space is so high in the Santa Clarita Valley. “The extreme supply-and-demand imbalance makes projects such as The Center at Needham Ranch attractive given the severe lack of supply, in particular for modern Class A space,” said Michael Marrone, Vice President at Clarion Partners in a statement. Business demand for space is high with the greater Los Angeles industrial market sitting at a historical low. The northern region has a vacancy rate of 1.1 percent, according to broker Craig Peters with The site has not been part of a rural setting for decades. It’s become prime property in Santa Clarita, the third largest city in Los Angeles County. “This is an incredible site, strategically located with easy access to the San Fernando Valley, Burbank Airport, LAX, Downtown LA and the ports,” said Philip Tsui, Vice President within TCC SoCal – Los Angeles in a statement announcing the development. “It truly is the Center as there are nearly 5.3 million people living within a 30-minute commute from this site. It doesn’t get much more central than that.” “The Center at Needham Ranch will provide a first-class business park in the southern end of the Santa Clarita Valley, which has limited available land for commercial development,” Peters said in a statement. Plans for Phase 2 are underway to include additional speculative industrial space and build-to-suit sites for industrial, office and research and development facilities up to 400,000 square feet.