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ORLANDO-Banking on future office demand in one of the metro area’s hottest submarkets, Boston-based Taurus Investment Holdings and New York-based Greenstreet/Niosi Capital Partners have jointly acquired investment interests in three existing office and flex-space buildings and 27 acres of prime development land for $25.3 million.

“This was actually a recapitalization (of properties already owned by Taurus) in which we brought in a partner,” Taurus president and CEO Peter A. Merrigan tells GlobeSt.com. The three buildings total 197,000 sf. Two are 100% leased; the third is under construction.

Merrigan says Taurus and Greenstreet plan to develop four 60,000-sf buildings on a 32.5-acre pad adjacent to the properties. This transaction marks the fourth joint venture completed by Taurus and Greenstreet in the past two years on real estate valued at more than $75 million, Merrigan says.

Told that Taurus may be one of the few developers planning new spec office product in the 3.16-million-sf University/East Orange submarket, Merrigan tells GlobeSt.com, “I hope we’re not making a mistake.” He flew down Wednesday to inspect the properties and close the deal.

The University submarket is showing a second-quarter 15% vacancy level, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc. Direct net absorption, however, has been robust at 342,589 sf, the highest of all 12 submarkets monitored by C&W.

The properties involved in the transaction are adjacent to the 35,000-student University of Central Florida campus, 12 miles east of Downtown Orlando and near Orlando International Airport. The 82,000-sf Challenger Three building was completed in 2001; the 45,000-sf Discovery Tech Center was built in 1997. The third 70,000-sf building is near completion.

Taurus is no stranger to the metro area’s commercial real estate scene. In March, the developer sold the 10-story, 36,000-sf, 77-year-old Metcalf Building Downtown to local entrepreneur Cameron Kuhn and a local law firm for $3.8 million, or $105.56 per sf, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. The property had been averaging 95% occupancy during most of its existence.

Testing the market in July 2002, Taurus placed its entire 670,000-sf, 93%-leased local office and industrial portfolio on the selling block and gave the exclusive listing to New York-based Sonnenblick-Goldman. Five of the eight properties are class A structures totaling 400,000 sf in Central Florida Research Park, as GlobeSt.com previously reported.

At the time, area industrial and office brokers told GlobeSt.com the estimated replacement cost for the entire portfolio would be at least $92 million, based on a $150-per-sf hard construction cost for class A office and $100-per-sf for business park space.

Greenstreet was formed by Anthony T. Niosi and Greenstreet Partners LP. The partnership and its affiliates conduct their international deals from offices in New York and Miami. The company “has relationships with operating partners across a broad spectrum of property sectors, including multifamily, office, shopping center and industrial properties,” according to a prepared statement.

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