Alterra Property Group has teamed up with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to launch a joint venture that will spend $300 million to buy industrial outside storage sites, or those properties used to park tractor trailers, earth moving equipment, cargo containers, building materials and other products.
A fragmented industry that is often overlooked as an asset class by real estate investors, Alterra sees an opportunity to roll up these properties across the country. Through its joint venture partner, the Philadelphia real estate company is looking to buy properties leased to a range of tenants that typically use 2- to 50-acre sites with low building coverage ratios for outside storage needs. A deal size is usually around $5 million.
“This type of industrial property has been owned for many years by large and small companies but no one has focused on it before,” said Leo Addimando of Alterra Property Group in an interview. “The value is in the ground and there are very specific locational requirements that vary by tenants.”
The most common set up involves a 10-acre site with a 20,000-square-foot building that has 20-foot clear heights and is located no more than two miles from an interstate with local roads that have no tight turns or weight limits. These properties are so ubiquitous they seem to blend into the landscape.
Most of these sites are owned by the companies that use them whether they are general contractors who store lumber, rebar, dirt, or equipment rental companies that need a place to park cranes, scaffolding or jersey barriers, or companies that use them to warehouse products needed for their business such as chemicals. While there are a variety of scenarios, most often these companies own their real estate or own the business but lease the land they use.
“Until now, no one has institutionalized it,” Addimando said. “It’s a misunderstood property type. If you go back 10, 20, and 30 years, single-family housing, mobile homes and self storage were fragmented with no institutional ownership. That is exactly what this is and this will be the next category.”
Addimiando’s Alterra Group is best known in for its Center City apartment conversions and development. His interest in industrial outside storage began four years ago when a friend who runs a rental business in Boston needed help relocating his work yard. Once that search was completed, a couple of other relocations cropped up and then expanded geographically and the tenant base.
Alterra has since accumulated 25 of these properties in 15 states stretching from West Virginia and Louisiana to Texas and Arizona. Of that number, four are owned with the new JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) venture. About eight months ago, Alterra decided to go out to raise capital with an institutional partner that would understand the nuances of this specialized real estate and the role it plays in day-to-day commerce and the economy. A deal was struck with J.P. Morgan.
In a statement, Peter Sibilia of JPMorgan said the firm is looking forward to working with Alterra to “institutionalize a new category of industrial real estate” by acquiring a portfolio of high-quality industrial outdoor storage properties across the country.
Addiando sees a bright future for this type of real estate. It’s vital in the logistics chain and has a significant role in building infrastructure and is becoming constrained as municipalities change zoning to limit their development.
“We think this is a very large category of real estate. We’re actively traveling, talking to owners and tenants, and we are looking to provide a real estate solution,” Addimando said. “We eventually want to build a multi-billion-dollar portfolio.”