Craig Caswell, founder and owner of Orlando-based Common Sense Office Furniture, has launched a satisfying and profitable sideline in commercial real estate investing.
He completed his second local property investment earlier this month, buying the former Fields Motorcars of Florida repair shop at 135 Baywood Ave. in Longwood for $850,000. Fields is moving its operations to a new showroom at Interstate 4 and 33rd Street in Orlando.
Caswell told GrowthSpotter he already has a tenant for the 12,460-square-foot warehouse: Signature Collision, a paint and body shop chain based in Annapolis.
"I knew the realtor who had leased them some space before in another part of Florida, and he was out looking for them (in Longwood)," Caswell said. "I knew the tenant is expanding so there is this opportunity that presents itself to buy the building and have a tenant immediately in the space."
The furniture store executive said he saw the built-in advantages and allure a former auto repair building would hold for another automotive-related business. The building already has car lifts, paint booths and an adequate power supply for body shop work.
Just as important, the building is in an industrial area and the zoning does not need to be changed.
"If we had not purchased a continued use of the same (type) business, the minimal expense to conform to code would be over $100,000," he said.
With the work area set up and appropriate zoning in place, Signature Collision can move in and be ready for business in 45 days, Caswell said.
Caswell said he has tried to do eight commercial real estate deals, striking gold twice. He tends to focus on single-tenant properties, especially in business or industrial zones where infill opportunities are available and zoning is not a concern.
"On these particular deals, the zoning is for less-than-desirable areas," he said. "Nobody wants a body shop next to their $400,000 house."
Caswell said he is now seeking CRE investment opportunities along the Atlantic coast in Georgia and South Carolina.
Common Sense Office Furniture specializes in outdoor furniture and furnishings for hospitality, educational and healthcare businesses. Caswell started the business in 1997.
Lee Zerivitz of CITY Commercial represented Fields in the sale.