CBRE Global Purchases Prime Pittsburgh High-Rise

Liberty Center, a 529,300-square-foot tower, marks the company’s first foray into the Steel City office market.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Pittsburgh—After a highly acquisitive 2016, CBRE Global Investors kicks off the New Year by announcing the purchase of Liberty Center, a 529,300-square-foot office asset in Pittsburgh. A fund advised by the global real estate investment management firm snagged the 27-story tower, taking it off the hands of Starwood Capital Group.

Liberty Center
Liberty Center

Liberty Center last changed hands as part of Starwood’s $135 million acquisition of the office building and the connecting 616-key Westin Convention Center Hotel in 2013, in a deal that priced the office segment at approximately $60 million. CBRE Global is remaining mum on the amount it paid for Liberty Center—sans hotel—but per a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, the price tag is thought to be roughly $98 million.

Sited at 1001 Liberty Ave. in the city’s central business district, Liberty Center, which also features 25,000 square feet of retail space, made its debut in 1987 and has since maintained its luster through a series of renovations. CBRE Global plans to continue the tradition of upgrading; the company will execute its proprietary 5-Star Worldwide service and amenity program at the property.

Per the Post-Gazette article, the purchase of Liberty Center marks CBRE Global’s first foray into Pittsburgh. But the firm is hardly alone in its newfound attraction to the city. According to a third quarter report by commercial real estate services firm CBRE Group, CBRE Global’s parent company, “The Pittsburgh office market experienced an inflow of institutional money from investors who typically target larger gateway markets like New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.” It’s a good time to own in Pittsburgh. As noted in the report, the average asking rate has been on the upswing for the last 15 quarters, and in the third quarter, it reached a record high of $22 per-square-foot across all property classes.

The Liberty Center acquisition comes on the heels of a particularly active quarter for CBRE Global. Among the firm’s plethora of purchases in the last three quarters of 2016 were a 45 percent stake in a $1.5 billion West Coast retail portfolio totaling 7 million square feet; the 394,000-square-foot California Plaza office property in metropolitan San Francisco; and the 2.3 million-square-foot Hillwood Portfolio, a group of logistics parks in Poland. Time will tell if the buying binge will continue in 2017.

Image courtesy of Yardi Matrix