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Local investors buy idled factory in Los Lunas

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The former Merillat plant in Los Lunas, at 360,167 square feet, is of such a large size that only a handful of companies currently operation in the metro are big enough to consider using it. (Courtesy of Rio Real Estate )

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The mothballed Merillat cabinet-making plant in Los Lunas has been purchased by a group of primarily local investors headed by Albuquerque-based Rio Real Estate Investment Opportunities.

The investment group does not have a company lined up to occupy what is described as a well-maintained, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The sales price was not disclosed.

“We went out to a group of primarily local investors and raised all cash,” said commercial real estate veteran Tim Cummins of Rio Real Estate. “We did talk to several banks about different scenarios where we might get financing. They pretty much said no.”

Built in 2005 and closed in 2011 by Taylor, Mich.-based Masco Corp., a diverse building products giant, the 360,187-square-foot plant was idle and off-the-market until late 2014, when Masco abandoned plans to reboot it to make its Merillat line of cabinetry.

The building was listed for sale with Bill Robertson and Tom Franchini of Colliers International in January and Rio Real Estate made an offer to purchase it immediately.

“You have to credit the local people who stepped up as our investors,” Cummins said. “It’s the kind of building we need in our inventory to attract outside companies.”

Rio Real Estate was given permission to market the building on 50 acres at 1300 Desert Willow Road for lease while the sale was pending, said Tim MacEachen, an associate broker with the firm. Two national companies are currently considering it for expansion.

“You have to go with what the market brings you,” he said. “Our first choice by far would be one tenant.”

If the facility was leased to two tenants, the cost to build a wall to separate their spaces would probably cost $1 million because of the building’s size, he noted.

At 360,187 square feet, the Merillat plant is the biggest building to sell in the metro since the former Philips Semidconductor plant sold in 2006, said Ken Schaefer of Colliers. The 502,000-square-foot Philips building is now I-25 Studios.

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