Duke’s Rosen says REIT is just beginning push to become major industrial player in state

Ben Rosen admitted Monday’s announcement was a bit of old news.

After all, Duke Realty’s purchase of 3.1 million square feet of Class A industrial real estate from Bridge Development took place last year.

But the idea of Duke becoming a major player in industrial in New Jersey is a story that’s just beginning.

Rosen, the company’s vice president of leasing and development, told ROI-NJ the REIT is just beginning to ramp up its presence in the state — a presence that already stands at 5.6 million square feet.

“We have an insatiable appetite for more high-quality industrial real estate,” he said. “We are now a pure-play high-quality industrial REIT and we’re really excited about the future. We have high confidence in the future of industrial in the overall industry, especially in the high barrier to entry markets, such as New Jersey and Los Angeles and South Florida.

“Duke traditionally is a Midwest company. We’re the dominant player in a lot of the Midwest markets. We’re trying to continue that presence in the coastal markets, such as New Jersey.”

All of Duke Realty’s newly acquired buildings and land parcels are located along the Interstate 95 corridor, starting at the Exit 8A submarket and continuing north to the Meadowlands submarket. The buildings in the portfolio were all delivered within the past year and incorporate features designed to enhance product storage and distribution, including 36-foot clear heights and ample automobile and trailer parking.

“There was a strong need from our standpoint to buy Class A properties in New Jersey, and we quickly identified this was one of the few opportunities to do that,” Rosen said.

The buildings in Duke Realty’s recent acquisition include:

  • 10 Broadway Road in Cranbury (264,085 square feet);
  • 377-87 Davidson’s Mill Road in South Brunswick (488,884 SF);
  • 960 High St. in Perth Amboy (220,200 SF);
  • 980 High St. in Perth Amboy (718,200 SF);
  • 1000 High St. in Perth Amboy (354,250 SF);
  • 900 Federal Blvd. in Carteret (206,500 SF).

Duke already has started development at some of the sites, including a 661,000-square-foot warehouse at 429 Delancy St. in Newark, with delivery expected by the end of the year.

In addition to the Delancy Street land, Duke also acquired a parcel at 5 Ethel Blvd. in Wood-Ridge, on which a 194,000-square-foot warehouse is proposed.

Rosen said the Delancy Street property gives Duke a chance to do what it does best.

“Historically, we’re a developer,” he said. “We’ve announced one development project, the Delancy project, but we have more that are coming that we’re excited about that I can’t talk about yet.

“But to say that we are one of the more active buyers and developers in New Jersey right now would be an understatement. We’re really active in terms of growth, and we’re focused on higher-quality properties. You’ll see a lot more from us in the coming years in a big way.”

Rosen thinks the red-hot New Jersey industrial market is showing no signs of cooling down.

“In markets like New Jersey, where land is really hard to come by, there’s still continued demand and even stronger demand from the tailwind of e-commerce and infrastructure and port improvement,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity to really grow our portfolio with some high-quality assets that are irreplaceable.”

The REIT, which used to have a diversified portfolio, has been industrial-only since it sold its remaining medical office properties last summer.

Rosen said recent reporting allows Duke to comment on the Bridge acquisition for the first time. Rosen said he feels it’s important for the REIT to do so.

“It’s good for (people) to have an understanding of what we are trying to do in New Jersey,” he said. “And this is perfectly representative of the growth that we’re doing and the transformation of the company that we’re undergoing.”

Rosen said he expects to tell the story more in the coming months.

“I’m on a couple of panels this week, and a few more next month,” he said. “People are interested to hear what we’re doing.”