To Shore Up Balance Sheets, REITs Like Brandywine Look to Divest Non-Core Assets

With loans still hard to come by, Brandywine Realty Trust is shoring up its balance sheet, reducing leverage and preparing for investment opportunities with the disposition of non-core assets, including two properties in Trenton, N.J. The REIT just completed the sale of the office buildings at 33 W. State St.

By: Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

With loans still hard to come by, Brandywine Realty Trust is shoring up its balance sheet, reducing leverage and preparing for investment opportunities with the disposition of non-core assets, including two properties in Trenton, N.J. The REIT just completed the sale of the office buildings at 33 W. State St. and 50 E. State St., totaling 474,000 square feet, to a private investment group.

Developed in 1988, the nine-story 33 W. State St. features approximately 168,000 square feet of space, while the seven-story 50 East State, built in 1989, encompasses nearly 306,000 square feet. Brandywine came into possession of the properties with its 1998 acquisition of the DKM Properties Corp. portfolio for $137.8 million. Together, the buildings have an occupancy level of 96.5 percent.

As per terms of the sale agreement, a Brandywine affiliated will handle the management and leasing of the 33 West State and 50 East State for a seven-year period. “”Recycling capital from non-core assets such as these two properties remains an integral part of our overall strategy,” Jerry Sweeney, President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, said in a prepared statement.

Selling off non-core assets has become a key strategy for many REITs–in various commercial real estate sectors–faced with paying down debt and addressing other corporate issues in an inhospitable credit market. In September, Macerich Partnership L.P. took a big step in its debt reduction program with the sale of a 75 percent interest in the FlatIron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, Colo., for $116 million in cash. Hersha Hospitality Trust, also in the midst of ridding itself of non-core assets to shore up its balance sheet and reduce debt, sold the 88-room Hilton Garden Inn Gettysburg, Pa. over the summer and closed on the disposition of its 55 percent interest in the 180-room Four Points hotel in Revere, Mass.