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A Coral Gables-based real estate investment group paid $5.85 million on Wednesday for three warehouse buildings in Orlando, its first in the local market, and is eyeing more in Greater Orlando to diversify.

COFE Properties bought the buildings in the Lake Holden Industrial Park, and the park's first addition. The seller was Division Street LLC, an affiliate of New York-based Cohen Development Corp.

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COFE saw the U.S. real estate market as overvalued in 2006 and 2007 and unloaded 1 million square feet of office and industrial assets, according to its website.

This warehouse at 523 W. Grant St. in Orlando is one of three recently purchased by Miami-based COFE Properties.
This warehouse at 523 W. Grant St. in Orlando is one of three recently purchased by Miami-based COFE Properties. (Orange County Property Appraiser)

The company is now actively looking for investments in the U.S.,  and Orlando could be a key focus, acquisitions associate Rachel Croessmann told GrowthSpotter.

"We are drawn to Orlando, particularly in the industrial market," she said on Friday. "It's a great market that's seeing a lot of growth."

Croessmann said the Lake Holden Industrial Park was attractive because it caters to markets in Downtown Orlando, and high-end suburbs like Winter Park.

"The assets we bought, the two buildings, we feel are unique to that area and cater to a certain tenant," she said. "We feel like we'll have good luck in maintaining a high occupancy without sacrificing rental rates."

One of the buildings, totaling 48,828 square feet, is on 1.72 acres at 444 27th St. in the original industrial park. The other two buildings, totaling 59,776 square feet, occupy 2.29 acres at 523 W. Grant St. Though not adjacent, both parcels are near the intersection of W. Michigan Street and Interstate 4.

Croessmann said the buildings were 100 percent leased at time of sale. That doesn't mean, however, the company won't be making some renovations.

"We do hope to make some improvements," Croessmann said. "We're coming up with a plan for that right now. We do want to keep the clients happy. If they have to leave for some reason, such as needing more space, we want to have an appealing building for anyone who works there."

COFE has previously invested mainly in South Florida. Other than the recently purchased warehouses, the company has no other investments in the Orlando area. But that could change.

"Right now we're keeping our eyes open," Croessmann said. "We don't think there are too many opportunities in that one particular (Lake Holden) area, but we believe there are some areas close to the airport that we'll be keeping an eye on."

Founded in 2002, COFE amassed a commercial portfolio totaling about 1 million square feet in the South Florida Market in its first three years.

After divesting their U.S. real estate holdings just prior to the market crash in 2007, COFE saw an opportunity to start a self-storage operation in Brazil called GuardeAqui Self Storage. The company acquired and developed more than 250,000 square feet of storage space in Sao Paulo.

The facilities represented the first truly modern, fully licensed self-storage facilities in Brazil, according to the company. COFE's principals sold a controlling interest in GuardeAqui in 2011.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at msalinero@outlook.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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