CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust Inc., based here, and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have formed a joint venture to invest in industrial land and buildings in the Netherlands and Belgium. The total investment capacity for the FirstCal Industrial Europe LLC venture is $475 million, says Johannson Yap, chief investment officer for First Industrial.

The term for the joint venture is 10 years with the capital being recycled into the venture as properties are sold. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) will initially contribute up to $150 million with First Industrial contributing up to $17 million. The projected capitalization is 35% equity and 65% debt. The New York branch of WestLB AG is the lead lender for FirstCal Industrial Europe LLC and CB Richard Ellis Investors is advising CalSTRS in the venture.

The initial geographical focus of the venture will be the industrial markets in Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent in Belgium. The venture may also later invest in other European markets. FirstCal Industrial Europe will acquire land for build-to-suit facilities and land for speculative developments in addition to existing facilities to reposition and lease, redevelop or for sale-leasebacks, Yap says. First Industrial, as the venture manager, will receive fees for development, property management, leasing, dispositions and portfolio administration and may also receive performance-based incentives.

First Industrial is forming the joint venture to serve the needs of the company’s clients, Yap says. “We see opportunities in owning, managing and building industrial real estate in the Netherlands and Belgium,” he says. “And, that is really driven by the growth of our customers due to supply chain reconfiguration that is going on in that part of the world.” With more international trade, companies are reconfiguring their supply chains, and there is a greater demand in the Netherlands and Belgium for industrial facilities such as warehouses and distribution centers, he says. The venture with CalSTRS allows First Industrial to have “the appropriate capital to fund our new investment opportunities,” Yap says.

Paul van Hezik was recently hired as country director for the Netherlands. This summer, First Industrial hired Jan Scheers as managing director to lead the company’s expansion into the Netherlands and Belgium, as previously reported by Van Hezik, who will report to Scheers, is a “local market expert and a top talent,” Yap says. Van Hezik was an associate director with Jones Lang LaSalle in the Netherlands and was previously associate partner and the head of the industrial department at Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker in Amsterdam.