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ADDISON, TX-Looking to get an industrial foothold in Texas, the four-year-old ML Realty Partners LLC of Itasca, IL has tapped First Industrial Realty Trust Inc.’s ranks to put a man on the ground with a first-year buying plan for $50 million to $100 million of class A, B and C space in one-off deals.

Turning on office lights this morning is Ron Carey as regional vice president, who vacated a senior investment officer’s role for the Chicago-based First Industrial’s Gulf and Mountain regions. First Industrial didn’t respond by publication time to comment on the exit.

Carey was one of a handful of professionals interviewed for the position. “Ron’s character and philosophy just jumped out,” says Michael W. Luecht, president and CEO of ML Realty. The job that’s been carved out is to start finding and buying industrial buildings, using a till that’s heavily funded by Principal Enterprise Capital, a subsidiary of the Des Moines-headquartered Principal Global Investors.

“We have the capital in place to more than grow the company two to three times its current size,” Luecht tells GlobeSt.com. “We are long-term players with long-term capital.” The portfolio, mostly built through one-off, off-market transactions, totals six million sf, the lion’s share of which is industrial space in the Chicago area. Less than one million sf is office space in Houston and Minneapolis. The plan for Texas is solely focused on industrial acquisitions, with the spotlight pointed at Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.

Luecht, who spent the 1990s working the Texas markets, has an industrial property under contract in Dallas/Fort Worth. It will close in mid-November, he says.

Luecht’s plan is to have Carey solo at first from the 14131 Midway Rd. office, but then pick up teammates as deal flow builds. Leasing and management contracts are always outsourced.

Luecht says 80% of the ML Realty acquisitions have been one-off transactions; he anticipates Texas will follow that lead. He says the investment group’s appetite is mortared by the capability to quickly close deals, citing its record-breaking 14-day turn on one Chicago pickup. “We are entrepreneurial investors with local discretion who happen to be backed by institutional dollars,” he says, “so we can move pretty quickly. We don’t need to go outside our office for any deal approvals.”

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