November – Briefs/Sales & Development

Cousins Closes Billion-Dollar Purchase of Texas Office Portfolio; Brookfield Property Offers to Buy Brookfield Office for $5B; Associated Estates to Buy 1,606-Unit Apartment Portfolio; Skanska Breaks Ground on $126M Boston Tower; Boston Properties Sells Interest in Times Square Tower for $684M; Rockrose Buys DC Office Building from Brookfield for $192M; Bill Gates’ Investment Group Buys Four Seasons Houston; Greystar to Acquire UK Student Housing Portfolio.

Cousins Closes Billion-Dollar Purchase of Texas Office Portfolio

Cousins Properties Inc. has completed an acquisition that evokes memories of the high-flying, big-ticket transaction days preceding the real estate market collapse in 2008. The REIT has wrapped up the $1.1 billion all-cash purchase of Houston’s 4.4 million-square-foot Greenway Plaza portfolio and Fort Worth’s 980,000-square-foot 777 Main St. from affiliates of Crescent Real Estate Holdings L.L.C.

The Cousins-Crescent transaction marks one of the largest office trades ever in the Lone Star State. Other such deals include joint venture partners Thomas Properties Group, California State Teachers’ Retirement System and Lehman Brothers’ acquisition of a premier 3.5 million-square-foot Austin portfolio from affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Advisors for nearly $1.2 billion in 2007.

Brookfield Property Offers to Buy Brookfield Office for $5B

Brookfield Office Properties has established a special committee to review and consider the $5 billion acquisition offer made by its parent company, Brookfield Property Partners, which wants to combine its operations and create one of the largest global commercial real estate companies. Brookfield Property Partners, which already owns 51 percent of Brookfield Office, said it had proposed acquiring the remaining 49 percent through a tender offer of the shares that it doesn’t own. Both companies are part of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. The merger would create a company with $45 billion in assets and ownership of more than 330 million square feet of office, retail, industrial and multi-family assets across the globe.

Associated Estates to Buy 1,606-Unit Apartment Portfolio

Associated Estates Realty Corp. will add 1,606 residential units to its holdings now that the REIT has entered into a definitive agreement with Northwood Ravin L.L.C. to acquire a portfolio of seven existing and under-development apartment assets across three states in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic for $324 million. Currently, Associated Estates’ portfolio consists of 51 multi-family assets containing 13,171 units across 10 states. With five of the seven to-be-purchased properties located in North Carolina, the REIT will nearly triple its presence in the Tar Heel State in one fell swoop.

Skanska Breaks Ground on $126M Boston Tower

Skanska USA Commercial Development Inc. has broken ground on Seaport Square’s first office tower, 101 Seaport. The $126 million asset will rise 17 stories and brings 440,000 square feet of LEED Gold-certified office space to Boston’s innovation district. 101 Seaport will serve as the Boston headquarters for PricewaterhouseCoopers, which will occupy 75 percent of the tower. Construction is scheduled for completion in October 2015.

Boston Properties Sells Interest in Times Square Tower for $684M

Boston Properties Inc. has entered into a binding purchase and sale agreement to sell a 45 percent interest in the ground leasehold interest and related tax credits in New York City’s Times Square Tower to an affiliate of Norges Bank for a purchase price of $684 million paid in cash. The Class A office building went on the market in June at a price of $1.6 billion. Upon closing, Boston Properties and the affiliate of Norges Bank will form a joint venture, and Boston Properties will retain property and leasing management on the property. The joint venture will hold the contractual right to purchase the fee interest in the property beginning in July 2024.

Rockrose Buys DC Office Building from Brookfield for $192M

Washington, D.C., witnessed the closing of another huge office transaction this week, as the Rockrose Development Corp., in its quest to increase its presence in the District’s office market, acquired the building at 2000 L St., N.W., for $192 million, or about $479 per square foot. This was Rockrose’s second office purchase in D.C. in just over a month. In August, the New York-based company paid $26.5 million for the office building at 1146 19th St., N.W.

Bill Gates’ Investment Group Buys Four Seasons Houston

Cascade Investment, the private investment arm of billionaire Bill Gates, is set to acquire the Four Seasons Hotel Houston. The seller is Maritz, Wolff & Co., which has owned the hotel since 2000. The Four Seasons Hotel Houston is located at 1300 Lamar St. in the city’s business/financial district and includes 404 rooms and suites and 64 privately owned residential units. The average occupancy rate among upper-upscale/luxury hotels in downtown Houston was 74.4 percent through August, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

Greystar to Acquire UK Student Housing Portfolio

Greystar Real Estate Partners is planting its flag in the United Kingdom for the first time with the acquisition of 21 student housing assets in a joint venture with Goldman Sachs. The properties are principally located in London, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. Greystar is currently the largest operator of apartment communities in the United States, with more than 215,000 units under management. Macquarie Capital advised both Greystar and Goldman Sachs on the transaction.