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TORRANCE, CA-Storm Properties Inc., a longtime owner and developer of industrial buildings, plans to acquire $25 million worth of apartment properties in Los Angeles County over the next two years as the company diversifies its portfolio. David Simard, president of Storm Properties, tells GlobeSt.com that the company believes that, “There is going to be a value window to acquire multifamily rentals toward the end of this year or in early 2010″ and that Storm wants to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire some of those assets.

Simard notes that Storm decided about a year ago to diversify into other commercial property types in addition to industrial. The Torrance-based firm is already under way on construction of 60,000 square feet of new retail space on a 10-acre site in Torrance.

Storm is looking for multifamily assets that are either completed and leased or under construction and nearly completed. “We have the capability to finish a project in-house, so if there is an asset that is in trouble, we can step in and finish it,” Simard says. The company is also looking at acquiring assets by purchasing distressed debt.

Storm is looking for multifamily properties only in Los Angeles County because the company is new to apartments and “We want to stay close to our home base,” Simard says. The company is focused on middle market properties, not low-income or luxury rentals, he adds.

Storm, which plans to hold the multifamily properties on a long-term basis, has never owned apartments. It has built some condominiums in the past through a sister company, Storm Western Development, a residential builder.

Simard describes Storm as one of a number of investors who have capital but have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the right time to buy. “It’s just a matter of when people with cash are going to get comfortable that they will get the best value for their dollar,” he says.

Storm’s diversification into multifamily assets doesn’t mean that the company is leaving the industrial realm, which “is still going to be our bread and butter,” Simard says. He says that the company has also looked at some office properties but hasn’t seen anything that it wanted to make an offer on.

Storm Properties is a division of Storm Industries Inc., a developer of commercial and industrial real estate throughout Southern California. Its portfolio includes completed industrial and retail buildings and approximately two million square feet in the planning, development or construction stages. The parent company was established in 1932, and Storm Properties has been in business for more than 35 years.

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