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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

CLEARWATER, FL-Locally based Meridian Development Group says it is moving forward with what it terms as an “aggressive acquisitions initiative” aimed at nearly quadrupling its current inventory. The current economic downturn is the driving force behind the initiative, which has a goal of expanding the group’s portfolio by five million sf.

“It is a phenomenal time to capitalize on new opportunities resulting from the current economic conditions,” Steven Kossoff, managing director of Meridian, tells GlobeSt.com. “We are not simply waiting for opportunities to find us. We are actively and strategically selecting markets and opportunities within those markets.”

Meridian, established in 2000, currently owns more than two million sf of bulk distribution, flex and single-story office properties, mostly located in the Southeast, with an aggregate value of $100 million, including a bulk warehouse in Sarasota that was formerly a distribution center for Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. Meridian bought the 950,000-sf building on 58 acres for $30 million in early 2006 and has since leased it to several big-box industrial users, including United Natural Foods Inc., Beall’s Inc. and Rilon Management LLC.

Telly Fathaly has joined Meridian as director of acquisitions to lead the portfolio expansion initiative. The group is currently considering 100,000-sf or larger bulk distribution, flex and low-rise office properties with value-add potential, Kossoff says.

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