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Meridian Manager Plans Bigger Deals Following Warehouse Whale

Nearly two years after making his first deal in the Tampa Bay area, Steve Kossoff is setting his sights on more commercial real estate transactions -- the bigger, the better.

"We're trying to build a 5 million-square-foot portfolio over the next five years," the managing director of Meridian Development Group said earlier this week at his Clearwater office.

Kossoff, who relocated Meridian to the Bay area from Buffalo, N.Y., in November 2004, completed his first big purchase the following year, paying $7.3 million for a 168,000-square-foot warehouse at Lakeland Interstate Business Park.

He followed that in January 2006 by partnering with Hudson Realty Capital LLC to buy a 948,578-square-foot grocery distribution warehouse on 41 acres in Sarasota for $30 million. The transaction is believed to be the largest local industrial deal in the past decade.

Current plans for the warehouse involve subdividing the existing space for use by food or furniture distributors, then adding 150,000 square feet of office condominium units on a separate 17-acre parcel, Kossoff said.

In the meantime, the deals don't stop there.

Meridian recently closed on the 220,000-square-foot Sunplex Business Center near St. Petersburg/ Clearwater International Airport for $17 million, renaming it Meridian Concourse Center.

Earlier this month, it paid $9 million for the former Continental Commerce Center along Scherer Drive in St. Petersburg, consisting of four buildings with 165,000 square feet of industrial and flex space. Meridian worked with Colliers Arnold on the transaction.

Having started with high-net-worth investors, Kossoff said Meridian now has more institutional backing and may eventually bring more money to the Bay area after divesting Meridian's remaining Buffalo properties.

"The groups that we work with love Florida, and we feel very comfortable with the transactions we're doing here," he said.

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