The News: Betting on an Office Portfolio

The combination of the recessionary economy and the constrained credit markets is continuing to suppress office transaction flow, but a big office deal did manage to make it across the finish line in the closing days of this year. On Dec. 12, UrbanAmerica acquired a 3.1 million-square-foot portfolio of 13 office buildings and one distribution center for $485 million from Rubicon Capital America L.L.C. of Australia.UrbanAmerica’s plan is to invest in assets occupied by high-credit tenants in key urban markets, and this purchase seems to fit squarely within those boundaries. The portfolio is 98.2 percent leased overall and is 93 percent leased to the General Services Administration. The vast majority of the portfolio is located in core urban markets like Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, San Diego and Washington, D.C.Steven Buss, executive vice president in CB Richard Ellis Inc.’s institutional investors group, who along with executive vice president Tom Holtz, represented the seller, said several characteristics of the deal helped move it forward. UrbanAmerica assumed existing debt, and with the high occupancy level of these buildings and the GSA leasing the lion’s share of space, the buyer seems to be placing a pretty safe bet. “This is a very saleable portfolio,” Buss said. “You have buildings with quality tenants, mostly the federal government, in core urban markets, where you’re not seeing fundamentals back up.”