Acquisitions begin with the bricks and mortar for G. Joseph Cosenza, vice chairman of the Inland Real Estate Group in Oak Brook, Ill. If the bricks and mortar do not pass his well-defined standards, he looks no further.
“If you're a true real estate person, it's the actual property structure that you decide on first,” Cosenza says. “In a multifamily property, if I would not live there at any stage of my life, I won't buy it.”
Acquiring existing properties nationwide has been the foundation of Inland Real Estate Group since its start in 1968. In 2015, the firm snapped up $1.9 billion of property, of which $1.2 billion was retail, $600 million was multifamily, and the $100 million balance was divided between industrial and medical office.
“There are very few commercial real estate companies or real estate investment trusts that have the ability to buy in so many different categories,” Cosenza says.
For retail, Cosenza prefers grocery-anchored shopping centers because people visit the grocery store often. He looks for complementary, traffic-producing tenants such as dry cleaners, beauty salons, and ice cream shops. “Medical office is a great category but doesn't go with a grocery store,” he says. “I don't go to a medical facility when I feel good.”
While 2015 was a stellar year for commercial real estate, Cosenza does not expect a re-balancing in the second half of 2016. “Growth has been slow after the Great Recession,” he says. “I have seen little bits of improvement and don't believe we are headed for a bubble - with one hesitation: the number of apartments being built in downtown Chicago.”
Inland Real Estate Group began as a moonlighting project to supplement four teachers' salaries. It's grown into a giant in acquisitions nationwide. And it's still on a roll.