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St. Louis firm pursuing local retail, industrial properties

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An acquisition-minded St. Louis real estate company has purchased its fourth Indianapolis property in less than five years and is pursuing more deals here.

Bianco Properties closed Dec. 30 on Fishers Gateway Shops, a 21,330-square-foot retail property at 116th Street at I-69. The center's tenants include Starbucks, Old National Bank, Qdoba and The Running Company.

The company, which was founded in 1956, identified Indianapolis as a target market about five years ago, said Dan Wolk, Bianco’s senior vice president in charge of acquisitions. The company manages its own properties and likes to expand in markets with good air connections to St. Louis, Wolk said.

In July 2006 it bought North by Northeast Shopping Center, a 56,560-square-foot retail property at the northeast corner of 96th Street and I-69. Less than a year later it bought Westpoint Commons Shopping Center, a 90,000-square-foot retail center at 8150 Rockville Road. And in December 2007 Bianco bought Northwest Business Park, a two-building, 343,200-square-foot light industrial complex at I-465 and West 86th Street, from First Industrial Realty Trust.

All four of its Indianapolis properties are substantially full, although there is space available in North by Northeast and in the Northwest Business Park.

Wolk said the company’s goal is to make $100 million in acquisitions in the next 12 months. The firm is interested primarily in high-quality retail and industrial properties in markets where it already owns property. Besides Indianapolis, the firm has holdings in St. Louis, Dallas, Tulsa and Seattle. It bought $33 million in property last year, including two retail centers in Dallas.

Though the depressed commercial real estate market has produced bargains for companies that have cash to spend, like Bianco, the downturn hasn’t been much of a factor in Bianco’s purchases, Wolk said.

The firm holds its properties for an average of more than 20 years. Though its website says it is in the market for raw land, Wolk said Bianco is more interested in property that has already been improved—unless land becomes available adjacent to properties in its portfolio.

Bianco’s Indianapolis retail centers are among 14 it owns and operates. They range in size from 13,000 square feet to 135,000 square feet. It also owns three industrial properties, including its local property. The firm has seven apartment properties containing about 1,375 units, primarily in the Seattle area, and some undeveloped land in St. Louis. The firm values its total portfolio at $260 million.
 

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