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PHOENIX-The Cole Cos. has spent $252 million to acquire 2.14 million sf of triple-net retail assets nationwide in July. To date this year, the locally based company has spent $969 million in the US on commercial real estate.

In its latest round of buys, Cole has bought properties leased to CVS/Caremark Corp., Walgreen Co., Staples Inc., Academy Sports & Outdoors Ltd., Eckerd Corp. and Taco Bell Corp. The properties are in primary and secondary markets in Alabama, Missouri, Texas, Indiana and Kentucky. The buys ranged from a collection of 13,905-sf Walgreen Co. stores in Kansas City, MO to a 706,560-sf building in Groveland, FL that’s leased to Circuit City Stores Inc.

Cole recently paid $89 million to FORT Properties Inc. of Los Angeles for a portfolio of single-tenant retail assets. That acquisition is indicative of the company’s typical buys says Chris Robertson, the buyer’s senior vice president of acquisitions. “I’d say over the past six months, we’ve done more portfolio than one-off deals,” he explains. “As our size and capabilities grow, we’re doing more of these larger deals.” FORT’s multi-state portfolio had long-term tenants like Lowe’s Companies Inc. and Kohl’s Corp.

Robertson tells GlobeSt.com that Cole is planning to spend $180 million this month, allowing it to reach the $1-billion goal five months earlier than anticipated. But, he predicts another $500 million of assets could be acquired by year’s end.

Robertson says tightening debt, though, could slow things. “Right now lenders are holding off on really quoting anything aggressively,” he says. “We might have to start taking deals down on an all-cash basis and wait for a better time to put debt on them.”

Robertson says the company is operating with a minimal three to five-year hold for its current portfolio and pending buys, which are newer core assets with triple-net leases. “We’re primarily looking at this for acquisition and hold and not as a seller,” he adds.

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