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(For more on Michael Brennan’s take on the industrial market, visit UpClose.)

CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. expects to be a net investor by at least a $50-million margin this year, selling at least $700 million in properties while buying or developing $750 million to $850 million. Meanwhile, company officials say their joint venture activity next year should be in the range of $800 million to $900 million, after total investments of $1.5 billion in 2005.

“Joint ventures are now a key element in our overall strategy,” said president and chief executive officer Michael Brennan during the REIT’s earnings conference call. The company’s second joint venture with California State Teachers Retirement System already has acquired a $983-million portfolio this year. The first joint venture, which targets development and repositioning opportunities, made investments totaling $117.4 million in the third quarter while selling assets worth $24.4 million. The buys were in two new markets for the REIT, Southern Florida and Northern California.

Funds from operations from the joint venture properties soared to $7 million in the third quarter, up from $1 million during the previous three months, said chief financial officer Michael Havala. “We’re not creating joint ventures for the sake of creating joint ventures,” he added.

For its own balance sheet, First Industrial Realty Trust acquired 2.4 million sf from Principal Real Estate Investors for $101 million. That brought the REIT’s own tally to $413 million in purchases against $473 million in sales, reported chief investment officer Johannson Yap.

During the last six years, First Industrial Realty Trust has averaged a transaction every three days, totaling $2.6 billion, Brennan noted.

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