KAMCO, 90 North Buy $75M Ohio Office Complex

In one of the city’s biggest deals this year, the firms completed the acquisition of two office buildings fully leased by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for use as its Operations Center through 2032.
Daniel Cooper, head of North America for 90 North Real Estate Partners
Daniel Cooper, head of North America for 90 North Real Estate Partners

KAMCO Investment Co., a leading investment firm and one of the largest asset managers in Kuwait, has expanded its holdings in the U.S. with its acquisition of the 302,000-square-foot Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Operations Center for $75.3 million. The investment was made in collaboration with the Chicago office of 90 North, a London-based investment advisory firm that has participated in other U.S. acquisitions with KAMCO, either as a buyer or strategic adviser.

The two-building property in Cincinnati’s Midtown submarket comprises Vernon Manor, a 156,000-square-foot office tower; Vernon Place, a 146,000-square-foot office tower; and two parking lots totaling 1,529 parking spaces. The Class A office complex is fully leased by the children’s hospital through 2032, with extension options for two five-year terms.

“This acquisition further represents measures taken by KAMCO towards expanding its portfolio globally through diversified real estate assets,” Khaled Fouad, chief investment officer of KAMCO, said in a prepared statement. “We are committed towards scaling up our real estate platform.”

Strategic buy

The acquisition is a continuation of 90 North’s strategy to invest in high-end properties in secondary U.S. markets that are considered low-risk, high-return investments.

“Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati is renowned in the state, across the country and throughout the world,” Daniel Cooper, head of North America for 90 North Real Estate Partners, said in a prepared statement. “Their commitment to the areas, and to establishing this property as their operations center, makes this a unique and well-timed investment.”

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Operations Center
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Operations Center

The buildings, which include a full-service café, rooftop lounge and outdoor garden, will be used as the operations center for nearly 1,600 hospital employees in the administration, accounting, IT and legal departments. One floor will be used as a poison control center for local companies like Procter & Gamble.

Vernon Manor, the original seven-story building, was developed in 1924 as a luxury hotel visited by well-known entertainers and politicians, including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Vernon Place is a newly constructed four-story building above a new 781-space parking garage.

The disposition was listed as the top sales transaction in the city for the second quarter in Cushman & Wakefield’s Marketbeat Cincinnati Office Q2 2018 report. The $75.3 million sale worked out to be $249 per square foot, well above the second biggest sale—the 262,477-square-foot Governors Hill office portfolio in the Mason submarket, which was sold by New York Life Insurance Co. for $17 million or $65 per square foot.

Cooper said Cincinnati has been one of 90 North’s target U.S. markets because of its business-friendly environment. Home to 10 Fortune 500 headquarters including Procter & Gamble, Fifth Third Bank and Kroger, the city also has a well-educated labor force due to its proximity to universities such as the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University and Miami University. More than 590 bio-health firms are located in southwestern Ohio.

Other Ohio, U.S. Deals

In November 2016, 90 North and KAMCO paid $107 million to acquire General Electric @ The Banks, the 338,000-square-foot office tower that serves as GE’s Global Operations Center, from Carter, the developer of the master-planned The Banks. KAMCO is the majority stakeholder, with 90 North as the minority owner.

One year ago, KAMCO and 90 North acquired a newly developed 215,000-square-foot Class A corporate office headquarters at 2900 Easton Square Place in Easton, Ohio, a Columbus suburb. The property is leased to a Fortune 500 tenant on a triple net lease basis for 15 years, with three additional seven-year terms.

“These Ohio acquisitions fully embrace a shared investment philosophy of acquiring newly developed and/or newly repositioned Class A office properties that are 100 percent leased on a long-term basis to trophy-credit tenants,” Cooper said.

90 North has been active in other parts of the U.S., including in Raleigh, N.C., where the firm sold the three-building Lenovo Enterprise Campus, for $135.3 million in February. A partnership led by 90 North and including Dubai-based Arzan Wealth had paid $127 million for the property three years earlier in February 2015.

Images courtesy of 90 North