Testing the Waters with Wells Fargo Plaza

by CoyDavidson on February 16, 2011

Stake in Wells Fargo Plaza Reported to be on the Block

MetLife Inc., has put a 50% stake in Wells Fargo Plaza, the second-tallest officer tower in Houston up for sale, according to a report in the WSJ’s Market Watch.

Trophy office properties in key markets have been one sector in the commercial real estate market that has shown signs of a robust rebound. Last December, Brookfield Office Properties paid $321.5 million for the 1.2 million square foot Heritage Plaza in what was Houston second largest sale ever in terms of total price. Houston’s top office sale to date is the $367 million / $289 per square foot price tag a GE Pension Trust Partnership paid Houston-based Hines in 2007, for the 1.3 millions square foot Bank of America Center located at 700 Louisiana in Houston’s CBD.

“We feel this is an opportune time to test the market given the abundance of capital looking for core assets in top markets like Houston,” Robert Merck, head of MetLife’s real-estate investments, wrote in an e-mail. He confirmed that MetLife was selling a stake in the building, but he wouldn’t say what size.

MetLife has owned the 1.72-million-square-foot Wells Fargo Plaza since the mid-1980s. The building is 94.5% leased according to CoStar Group and serves as Dynegy’s corporate headquarters all though its occupancy has been reduced significantly in recent years. Last June, the GSA signed a lease for approximately 132,000 square feet to relocate the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas to one of Houston’s most expensive office buildings.

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