N.J. investment firm buys Wildwood, first ATL acquisition

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After beefing up its office portfolio in Charlotte during the past year, a New Jersey real estate investment firm is now doing the same thing in Atlanta.

Vision Properties, based in Mountain Lakes, N.J., just paid $97.5 million for Wildwood Center, a 700,000-square-foot office building on Atlanta’s northwest Perimeter.

CBRE Global Investors was the seller.

Wildwood Center was a former build-to-suit for IBM in the late 80s. Today it counts Manhattan Associates and GE as tenants, among others. Occupancy is greater than 90 percent, with a little more than 60,000 square-feet of space remaining to lease, said Vision Properties Managing Partner Fred Arena.

“It’s a core-plus deal for us,” Arena said. “That’s what we wanted for our first deal in a new market.”

In Charlotte, Vision Properties has built a 2.5-million-square-foot office portfolio in less than two years. It teamed with Starwood Capital Group to buy the 42-story One Wells Fargo Center and CarVal Investors, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill, to buy Coliseum Centre office park. It has its Charlotte portfolio at more than 90 percent leased.

“We thought Charlotte had bottomed out, and we saw quality assets that were well positioned in the market,” Arena said.

It plans to take the same approach in Atlanta.

“You could see us at 2 million square feet or more in the next two years in Atlanta,” he said.

Vision Properties likes the direction Atlanta’s employment growth is headed (it’s posted two straight 12-month stretches of adding more than 50,000 jobs). It’s looking at additional acquisitions, particularly buildings along the Perimeter, where absorption in the office sector has been strongest.

“We feel good about how companies have been growing there, like State Farm,” Arena said.

Vision Properties is a joint venture spun out of Vision Equities to expand its portoflio along the entire East Coast.