PHOENIX-The largest office tower in the East Valley has been purchased by a local investment company for $33 million.

Biltmore Financial purchased the only high-rise in the East Valley, a 16-story office tower at the southeast corner of Alma School Road and Southern Avenue. The 300,000-sf building is accented by a blue neon strip along its edges. The project is across from Alma School Road and Fiesta Mall, one of the most active regional malls in the Valley. The sale price equates to $110 per sf.

The building was built in the early 1980s by Western Savings, which used it as a headquarters. The savings and loan organization failed in the mid-1980s under the crushing weight of dozens of poorly conceived development ventures. The building went into the hands of the federal Resolution Trust Corporation, which sold it to Phoenix-based DMB in the early 1990s for $20 million.

DMB has been marketing and selling off portions of its office portfolio for the past few years. Earlier this year, DMB sold an office project along the Camelback Corridor for $58 million, or nearly $200 per sf.

Office space in the Mesa area has become scarce. The two submarkets that cover the city, East Mesa and Downtown Mesa, had vacancy rates of 5.6% and less than 1%, respectively, at the start of the fourth quarter. The lack of available space has prompted some new office development in the area. Opus West has an office project underway just east of Fiesta Mall.

The Phoenix office of CB Richard Ellis negotiated the sale.