An investment arm of a Spanish family has purchased the Doral building where the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration tests and stores confiscated illegal drugs.

Madrid-based MDR Americana paid $43.8 million Wednesday for DEA South FL LLC, the company that owned the property. By acquiring DEA South, MDR assumed ownership of the building and the lease with the federal government that comes with it.

To high net-worth investors, the 56,000-square-foot property represents a rarity in today’s economic environment: a safe and relative high-yield investing opportunity.

“This is a type of asset that is as good as buying Treasury bonds, if not better, because the interest rate is higher than a Treasury bond and just as secure,” said attorney Barry Lapides, an associate with Duane Morris in Miami. Lapides represented MDR in the negotiations.

MDR paid about $782.14 per square foot for a building that cost between $400 and $500 per square foot to build, he said.

“The building is reinforced, reinforced and reinforced again,” Lapides said.

At least one industrial real estate broker was surprised at the value of the deal.

“It is massive amount of money they paid for that piece,” said broker Jose Juncadella, a principal with Coral Gables-based Fairchild Partners. “It is an amazing number, but it has to be because the lease is humongous.”

If a lease has generous terms, it reflects in the value of the property, he added.

Juncadella was not involved in the transaction, but is familiar with the property at 2205 NW 132nd Place.

Based on the sale price, he estimates the deal fetched a capitalization rate in the mid-5 percent range, something that is becoming common among Class A industrial deals in the Airport West area. The capitalization rate, a measure of investment return, declines as prices rise.

Aggressive Investor

MDR, owned by the Moratiel Llarena family in Spain, has been an aggressive investor in South Florida in the last year.

In May, the family paid $17.37 million for two acres at 1080 Brickell Ave., Miami. The same site sold for $9.5 million in 2006, a year before the financial and real estate markets collapsed. The Brickell site came with city approvals to construct a residential high-rise building.

Earlier this year, the family paid $17 million for the 63-unit Brickell Station Lofts at 100 SW 10th St., west of Brickell Avenue. The fully leased apartment building went for $270,000 per unit.

Lapides said his client owns a diverse portfolio of commercial real estate worldwide so buying an industrial property fits the family’s acquisition strategy.

“While it was a very complicated deal for them to get their arms around — because you are dealing with the government and a [CMBS] loan — once you own the building and have a structure in place, it is an easy asset to own,” he said. He added that the deal included assuming an existing collateralized mortgage-backed security loan for $36.5 million.

Beacon Lakes Complex

The lab is within the 436-acre Beacon Lakes Business Park complex, west of Miami International Airport. In 2009, DEA South bought 10 acres in Beacon Lakes for $9.95 million with the idea of building the DEA facility. At the time, the real estate market was moribund and the land’s price was perceived as exorbitant, since values had plummeted. DEA South, a joint venture of Galaxy Investments in Denver and Halle Enterprises in Washington, D.C., built and completed the lab last year. It immediately signed a 20-year-lease with the U.S. General Services Administration on behalf of the DEA. The agency uses the lab to analyze evidence, provide scientific support to other forensic labs and conduct research for other enforcement agencies. It also disposes of the tons of drugs seized by federal agents every year.

DEA South wasn’t marketing the property when MDR reached out to it, Lapides said.

Doral is one of the nation’s most attractive markets for investors hungry for new industrial buildings occupied by strong tenants like the federal government. The Miami area has a limited number of parcels zoned for industrial use, and institutional investors are pouring into the area. As demand for Class A industrial buildings is growing, many investors are going after unlisted properties to avoid competition.

“A lot of the sales we do involve properties that were not on the market,” Juncadella said.

Juncadella is handling leasing of a 336,000-square-foot industrial building under construction next to the DEA lab. KTR Capital Partners is behind the new Miami International Distribution Center at Pan American West Business Park to be completed in late 2012 and be ready for occupancy in January.