West Coast Rises in 2019 Ranking of Office Sales

New York City accounted for 11 of the top 50 office investment deals of the year, according to an analysis by COMMERCIALCafe.
Troy Block
Amazon-occupied Troy Block office towers in Seattle. Image courtesy of HFF

New York City remains the largest office real estate market in the U.S., but the Big Apple lost some of its shine last year as investors turned their attention to trophy assets on the West Coast, according to a ranking of the top office sales of 2019.

California office markets—particularly in the Bay Area—and Washington’s Seattle and Bellevue areas gained the most amid New York’s modest performance during the year, COMMERCIALCafe’s latest ranking of the 50 priciest office transactions in the U.S. shows. Whereas New York City boasted 19 entries on the 2018 list, including more than half of the top 10 transactions, in 2019 the city accounted for just 11 entries.

Total transaction volume in New York dropped by 41 percent in the same time period, from roughly $11 billion in 2018 to $6.5 billion last year, marking the city’s lowest annual figure since 2012. For the first time since 2016, the metropolis’s priciest office deal—the $937 million sale of the Coca-Cola Co. building at Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue—fell below the $1 billion mark.

The transaction was topped by Google’s $1 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s former headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., which took the crown for the largest U.S. office deal of the year.

Check out the full list in the table below:


Investors head to the Pacific

Beyond New York City, investors were especially keen on office assets in San Francisco and Seattle. Roughly 3.7 million square feet of office space changed hands in San Francisco, accounting for seven of the top 50 entries in 2019, led by Jamestown’s $826 million acquisition of the Levi’s headquarters campus. In Seattle, office sales totaling 3.3 million square feet made it onto last year’s ranking, with Ponte Gadea’s $740 million purchase of a pair of office towers occupied by Amazon topping the list.

Houston saw two office transactions on the top 50 list, including the $627 million acquisition of JPMorgan Chase Center, the tallest building in Texas, and the adjacent Chase Center by Cerberus Capital and Hines. The second-ranked deal was the sale of the Bank of America Tower for nearly $415 million to Beacon Capital Partners. 

Drawing on data from Yardi Matrix, the ranking covers office buildings measuring at least 50,000 square feet and mixed-use properties where office accounts for at least half of the space. Portfolio sales were counted as single transactions and only properties that were part of the same campus and shared the same sales terms were included.