Weston buys three Northeast Ohio industrial buildings for $18.9 million

From Crain’s Cleveland

Weston Inc. snapped up a trio of Northeast Ohio industrial buildings this month in off-market deals totaling $18.9 million. 

The family-owned company, based in Warrensville Heights, purchased the properties from longtime real estate broker Howard Lichtig. The transactions were an estate-planning exercise for Lichtig, who is 62, and a logical pursuit for Weston, which owns and develops industrial real estate in several states. 

“For us, it’s core real estate,” said T.J. Asher, president of Weston’s acquisitions and development group. “When we look at our portfolio, these buildings fit very well. They fit very well locationally. They fit very well for the type of buildings they are.” 

Public records show that on Sept. 10, Weston paid $12.6 million for a pair of single-tenant buildings in Cleveland, just west of the I-X Center and south of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Lichtig developed those buildings in 1999 during a squabble over the I-X Center between Cleveland and neighboring Brook Park that ultimately shifted municipal boundaries. 

The larger of the buildings, a 185,000-square-foot structure at 21000 Aerospace Parkway, is occupied by Mazzella Lifting Technologies, a company that deals in wire ropes, lifting slings and rigging equipment. 

The second, 100,000-square-foot building, at 21500 Aerospace Parkway, is home to technology firm MCPc Inc. 

Weston also paid $6.3 million for a suburban property that Lichtig had owned since 2005. That 96,000-square-foot building, at 18401 Sheldon Road in Middleburg Heights, is fully leased to three tenants. 

The properties never hit the market. Lichtig described his decision to sell as the outgrowth of a decadeslong business relationship and friendship with the Asher family. 

“It just seemed to be a very good alignment of interests,” he said. 

For the Ashers, the purchases rounded out a like-kind exchange, a property swap that lets investors defer capital gains taxes. Weston paid for the buildings using proceeds from the family’s March sale of downtown Cleveland parking lots to the Sherwin-Williams Co., which was assembling land for its future headquarters. 

Weston isn’t planning changes to the buildings, which Asher characterized as stable assets with potential for slight rent growth when leases come up for renewal. He said Weston remains bullish on industrial real estate, which is weathering the coronavirus pandemic much better than other property types. 

“We’ve been in growth mode,” he said. “We’re still in growth mode. We’re still acquiring property.”