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NEW YORK CITY-Wells REIT is humming “New York, New York.” The Atlanta-based Wells is allocating $500 million in an effort to acquire properties in the Big Apple, but the shopping cart won’t just be parked in Manhattan. The REIT is planning to go after properties in other major markets such as Washington, DC and Chicago, too.

Wells’ chief investment officer David Steinwedell says Wells has pursued 10 to 12 New York City properties over the past 18 months, but to no avail due to the competitive marketplace. “They’re still open wounds,” he notes. “We can be fast and we can be patient. We can be patient to find the right property and then be quick about making the deal. We don’t have to get in New York this year.”

Steinwedell says the REIT would be interested in Lower Manhattan opportunities. “The prospect of the (reopened) PATH station and improved mass transit could make Downtown thrive.”

The REIT is no stranger to the tri-state area. Wells just announced that it has acquired a 300,000-sf, class A office building in suburban Bridgewater, NJ. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The eight-story 200 Bridgewater Crossing is leased until 2012 as the headquarters space for Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. And earlier this year, it purchased the 409,604-sf Citicorp Operations Center in Englewood Cliffs, NJ for $70.5 million.

In 2002, Wells Real Estate Funds completed 30 transactions for more than $1.4 billion. Through three investment products–Wells REIT, the Wells S&P REIT Index Fund and Wells limited partnerships–Wells manages more than $3 billion in asset for more than 100,000 investors. So far in 2003, the REIT has purchased more than $1 billion in properties nationwide–the goal is to acquire $2.5 billion by year’s end.

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