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CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust Inc., based here, and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) are joining together in another venture that will focus on industrial properties in Canada. The total investment capacity of the fund is $285 million.

The term for the joint venture is 10 years, with the capital being recycled into the venture as properties are sold. CalSTRS will initially contribute up to $90 million, with First Industrial contributing up to $10 million. The projected capitalization is 35% equity and 65% debt. The lead lender will be WestLB AG, New York City branch, and CB Richard Ellis Investors is advising CalSTRS in the venture.

The venture will invest in a variety of types of real estate including land for build-to-suit facilities and land for speculative developments, in addition to existing facilities to redevelop, reposition and lease. The geographical focus of the venture will be Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton, says Mike Brennan, president and CEO of First Industrial. “The fundamentals in Canada may perhaps be the best in all of North America,” he says. Toronto is the fourth largest industrial market in North America and is a major distribution hub in addition to the major distribution centers of Edmonton and Calgary. The occupancy rate in Calgary is 98%, the occupancy rate in Edmonton is 97% and the occupancy rate in Toronto is 96%, he 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 opened offices in the Toronto and Calgary/Edmonton markets last year. Dave Carreiro is the regional director of the Toronto office and Blair Sinclair is the regional director for the Calgary and Edmonton markets.

CalSTRS and First Industrial announced earlier this week a $475-million joint venture to focus on the Netherlands and Belgium and, in December, increased the capital capacity of their joint venture FirstCal 3 LLC to $1.6 billion. “The industrial business is enjoying an unprecedented expansion,” Brennan says. “These joint ventures reflect strong fundamentals.” The industrial markets have been strong because of increased international trade, reconfiguration of supply chains and the increased use of intermodal facilities for the transportation of goods, he says.

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