Cousins Begins Exit from Industrial Real Estate

Cousins Properties Inc. is de-emphasizing the industrial property side of its business with the sale of several parcels of land in business parks in metro Atlanta, and with the resignation of two of the Atlanta-based REIT’s industrial division’s executives, who will not be replaced.According to the company, the land sale means that it will not pursue new speculative industrial development in the Atlanta market.”It’s the beginning of a process to exit industrial real estate,” a spokesman for Cousins told CPN this morning. “We’ve had successes along the way with our industrial properties, but they aren’t part of our core. To be really successful over the long run with industrial properties, an owner has to be very large, or very specialized, and we’re neither.”The sale involves a number of parcels totaling 167 acres, sold for a total of $18.5 million, to Weeks Robinson Properties, a new Atlanta-based industrial development company. The transactions include one site totaling 44 acres at King Mill Distribution Park in Henry County, south of Atlanta, and three sites totaling 123 acres at Jefferson Mill Business Park, northeast of Atlanta. Cousins will continue to own the existing buildings and remaining land at the parks.Forrest Robinson, president of Cousins’ industrial division, is leaving the company to partner with industrial development veteran Ray Weeks in the formation of Weeks Robinson. Bob Currie, senior vice president of leasing for the industrial division, is also leaving Cousins to join Weeks Robinson.Cousins still owns three industrial buildings totaling about 2 million square feet. According to the company spokesman, those will probably be sold eventually. The company’s portfolio also consists of interests in 7.7 million square feet of office space, 4.8 million square feet ofretail space, 353 for-sale units in three under-development multi-family projects, 24 residential projects under development, and about 9,000 acres of land.