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Exeter is adding to its Atlanta industrial stock as part of its strategy to beef up its five core markets. And the seller was on stage with the company executive at our Atlanta Industrial Summit at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead last week. (He's not a magician, but he was working his magic.)
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Exeter is under contract to purchase Ridgeland, a three-building industrial park off of GA 400 and McFarland Road for an undisclosed sum from Duke Realty. Word of the deal was hinted at by Exeter Property Group's principal Ralph Kittrell (whom we snapped above), at the event (which also included Duke Realty's Chris Brown). Ralph told the audience of more than 250 that he had unspecified buildings in Atlanta under contract, part of an effort to spend $100M by the end of the year. ?That's our major impetus right now, which is to buy,? Ralph says. Afterwards, he told us that he had targeted the Duke buildings, all of which are fully leased to Siemens and Dekalb Office Environments. With 3M SF owned in Atlanta now, Ralph tells us Exeter is hoping to own up to 10M here.
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Pattillo Industrial Real Estate's Larry Callahan took the stage amidst some great local news that his company leased a Covington building for the HQ of Vestar, which will bring 100 jobs to the local economy. Larry tells us that's where his activity has been—withmanufacturers, even in some cases returning from other countries. ?This is something we very much need to see,? he says. ?Despite all the uncertainty in the world ... people are stepping up and saying, 'Well, people are still going to eat.'? As we previously reported, Pattillo also is going spec in Gainesville with a manufacturing facility.
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But all's not well in Atlanta's industrial market. As First Industrial Realty Trust's Kent Mason (all smiles with CBRE's Todd Barton) points out, his company's occupancy levels are improvingeverywhere except largely in metro Atlanta. First Industrial is even 90% occupied ?in Detroit, of all places.? (Which might be the most shocking news of the day.) ?We're grinding it out on leasing, [but] we need to gain about 10 points here in Atlanta before we feelcomfortable,? he says.
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Seefried's Doug Smith also says political concerns hurt potential deals. For instance, Seefried lost a deal in Gwinnett County after the government bantered over the debt ceiling hike earlier this year. ?Basically [the tenant] just called us really at the goal line and said, 'We're going to hold off,'? Doug says. ?We thought we saw a break in the clouds, but now we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel.? Doug did note that so much of Atlanta's industrial health was tied to the housing market. When that improves, so will the industrial sector.