Home Private Equity CenterLinks Business Park sells for $92.5M

CenterLinks Business Park sells for $92.5M

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A global private equity company with almost $30 billion in investments just added to its portfolio with a record-setting industrial real estate purchase in Lee County.

EQT Exeter paid $92.5 million for CenterLinks Business Park—nine industrial warehouse buildings with a combined 453,940 square feet of space on 41 acres at 16770 Oriole Road—confirmed brokers Mike Doyle and Adam Palmer of LQ Commercial, who represented the buyer and the seller, McGarvey Development. 

Exeter’s U.S. real estate headquarters are in Philadelphia, hometown of John McGarvey, who developed the complex just north of Alico Road and west of Interstate 75 after paying $39 million for it in 2021, property records show. 

The previous industrial sales record in Lee County was set in 2021, when ET FT Myers LLC paid $67.8 million for the distribution facility used by Amazon, just west of CenterLinks, property records show. 

“A $100 million deal in Southwest Florida is not the norm,” said Ward Fitzgerald, CEO of EQT Exeter, rounding up the price. He put both the deal and his company into perspective. 

“We are a global, leading private equity firm that’s based in Europe,” Fitzgerald said. “The real estate division is based in Philadelphia. But we are global, with 53 offices across the globe. We know about or have known about most corners of the earth, because that’s our business. 

“I guess more specifically, the interest in Southwest Florida now is based on the fact that, clearly, the East Coast is becoming more congested. Organizations are reimagining their supply chain to provide goods, purchased through e-commerce and the internet. As companies redesign themselves, Exeter looks at itself as a consulting group to corporations in their supply chain.” 

When McGarvey indicated a desire to sell, Palmer said he and his team deployed a “sniper-like” approach rather than shopping it hard on the market. 

“When you work on a deal this size, generally you market it a little differently than conventional,” Palmer said. “We knew from the beginning that our buyer was likely to be the institutional landlord. While it was technically an on-market opportunity, we treated it as an off-market opportunity.” 

Fitzgerald said he and McGarvey have known each other for more than 30 years. 

Exeter already owns about 5 million square feet of industrial space near Orlando and 5 million square feet more between Jacksonville and Miami, Fitzgerald said. 

“As we decided to come down to Southwest Florida, I reached out to Mr. McGarvey about what he was thinking about if a large-scale organization could come down to the area,” Fitzgerald said. “He felt that it was a good time to consider selling CenterLinks and deploying that capital into other projects. He’s an active developer and also a very talented developer. We were happy for his counsel.” 

Doyle said his team helped make the facility attractive by getting it almost fully leased with a diverse set of tenants. The tenants include various construction contractor businesses, technology companies, a funeral home, a church, an industrial laundromat and others. 

“We create a wide variety of users, which is fantastic,” Doyle said. “Once again, the location is a home run. Because each user can go to Collier County, Charlotte County easily.” 

Landing a renowned buyer also makes the future look good for the region, Palmer said. 

“It’s the largest industrial deal in the history of Lee County,” Palmer said. “Largest industrial deal in the state of Florida so far this year. It’s interesting. The industrial market has kind of been bucking the trend in commercial real estate across the country despite two years’ worth of rising interest rates. 

“Industrials remain extremely popular, especially with institutional investors. They try to search out safe havens for capital preservation. Bringing in a landlord with that level of institutional expertise, really kind of puts us on a map with institutional investors,” he said.

“You know, when you’re looking at it just strictly from an investment perspective, it makes me think of an old Rockefeller quote, where it was suggested that a return of principle can be more important than a return on principle.” 

EQT Exeter could look to do more business in Southwest Florida, Fitzgerald said. 

“We’re not done,” he said. “We’re just getting started.” 

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