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Sean Ryan is associate editor of Real Estate New Jersey SECAUCUS, NJ-Selling Keystone Property Trust to ProLogis last summer for $1.6 billion wasn’t an easy transaction to close, said Jeff Kelter, chairman and CEO of KTR Capital Partners, and president and CEO of Keystone during its acquisition. “We wanted to set up an environment where ProLogis didn’t feel they were the only bidder.”As it turns out, they were.”

With the numerous assets that Keystone had, once Kelter decided to sell the company there were “really only about 10 companies” that could afford to acquire it. ProLogis was probably finding out its $1.6 billion bid had no competition with the rest of the RealShare Industrial East crowd, Kelter admits. The jovial, self-deprecating Kelter shared his thoughts with the more than 300 attendees of the RealShare Industrial East Conference on June 2 for the “Inside the Real Estate Mind” interview. Real Estate Media editor in chief Michael G. Desiato asked the questions, which covered Kelter’s multi-company career and his thoughts on the industry.

Kelter had four months at home before he founded KTR at the end of 2004. “I went home every day for four months, and my kids were delighted to see me go back to work.” He also didn’t expect the traditional retirement pursuits to fit well with him. “I can almost promise you that I’m going to suck at fishing.”

Kelter attributes a lot of his previous success with the Philadelphia-based Keystone to picking the right area of the market to pursue. “You succeed by being in front of the capital,” he says, joking that Keystone’s success came despite it being “not that smart,” and that it “made every mistake you could make.”

Kelter has sworn off of office space: he calls it “a terrible business” in comparison with industrial properties. KTR’s focus isn’t limited to the east coast–he’s discussing transactions in Chicago, Toronto and Houston–but is sticking to major marketplaces. KTR is working on construction of a 500,000-sf building in Charlotte, for example.

Keystone was based in Philadelphia, but Kelter spends a lot of his working time now in New York. “A very high proximity of industrial investors are in New York. I can have breakfast or lunch of golf with them. Being a principal is a lot more interesting than anything from the administrative side.”

The current marketplace for real estate is “a very schizophrenic environment” he said. “Enjoy it while it lasts. I’ve never seen so many brokers with a smile on their face.”

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