CSM Corp. has sold 7 million square feet of industrial real estate spread across 59 properties in the Twin Cities and Denver. With 5.7 million square feet of the portfolio located in the Twin Cities, the deal, announced Thursday, is the largest real estate sale in Minnesota history by square footage.

Colliers International’s Minneapolis-St. Paul investment-services team, which helped negotiate the deal, declined to disclose the total sales price.

“The decision to sell these properties was a difficult one for me,” said Gary Holmes, president and CEO of CSM, in a statement. “It took time for me to reconcile with the fact that I was parting ways with a portion of my life’s work. Many talented people had a hand in developing and managing these properties and I am profoundly grateful for their efforts.”

The sale includes a mix of high-and low-finish industrial properties across the metro area with a diverse tenant mix, said Colliers Senior Vice President Mark Kolsrud, who helped oversee the sale.

“You can imagine it wouldn’t be easy to close a deal now,” Kolsrud said. “It gives testimony to the quality of the buyer.”

While the buyer wasn’t announced, sources with knowledge of the transaction said the purchaser was New York-based Blackstone Group. Last April, Colliers helped Blackstone Group purchase Minneapolis-based Industrial Equities’ industrial real estate of 2.5 million square feet for $247 million, making it at the time the biggest industrial portfolio sale in Minneapolis history.

Holmes had built up his industrial portfolio over decades. After the sale, CSM will remain a major owner of hotel, residential and commercial properties, and the company intends to continue to grow its business in the Twin Cities and other markets.

According to real estate firm CBRE, the Twin Cities industrial market closed the first quarter of the year with nearly 570,000 square feet of absorption. Vacancy remained low at 4.4%.

“Institutions have never been so interested in the market [as they are now] because of the strength of the economy,” Kolsrud said. “Minneapolis has proved in all economy cycles low and high to be a winner.”

Kolsrud said he worked closely with CSM Director of Investments Ryan Bartley on the sale.

Colliers investment-services team of Kolsrud, David Berglund, Colin Ryan, Pia Robertson, Pete Carbonneau and Sarah Gutknecht arranged the transaction.

 

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