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GREENWICH, CT-Broadway Partners has been one of the most active commercial office buyers in the New York suburbs in the past two years. The firm’s CEO Scott Lawlor tells GlobeSt.com that his firm hopes to increase its investments significantly in 2003.

The locally based-based firm has spent more than $510 million in the past two years to acquire an office portfolio of approximately 2.4 million sf, located mostly in the New York metro area. Lawlor, who terms the current commercial investment-sales market as “insanely competitive,” says his firm hopes to spend between $300 million to $500 million in new office acquisitions next year. The company is currently focusing on adding office product to its portfolio in Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Washington, DC and Chicago. He says the company is looking for office product priced in the $50-million-and-higher range. “The bigger, the better,” Lawlor says. One of Broadway Partners’ chief goals in 2003 is to enter the Manhattan office market, he adds.

Lawlor notes that Broadway Partners currently has a contract to acquire an office property on Long Island, although he would not divulge the property it intends to acquire. The executive says that Goldman Sachs will finance the deal, which is expected to close next month. The firm’s current–and sole–holding on Long Island is 1979 Marcus Ave., in Lake Success, a 348,000-sf complex.

Some of the company’s other notable holdings include: 400 Atlantic St., a 499,198-sf office building in downtown Stamford; Pickwick Plaza, a 238,000-sf office complex in Greenwich; Saxon Woods Corporate Center in Harrison, NY, a 234,000-sf complex; and Sheffield Office Park in Troy, MI, a 517,000-sf property. The firm also owns 200 Central Park Ave., a 45,200-sf office building in Hartsdale, NY.

In relation to Broadway Partners’ expansion plans in 2003, the firm currently has a good mix of institutional and private money sources to help fund acquisitions. However, Lawlor says the firm is seeking to add some European institutional investors to its list of capital sources.

He also notes that the deals that are attracting the most investor interest are quality buildings in good locations that offer the least amount of risk. Only a few years ago, he says, investors were buying properties that had a good amount of rent rollover.

“Now, what everyone wants is no near-term exposure,” he states. “There is a terrible contradiction at the moment, the office leasing market is stagnant, while the sales market is overheated.”

The executive theorizes that while the leasing market has hit bottom, it will take quite a while for activity to rebound all together. “It is going to take a full year of good economic news to change the psychology out there that will lead to more hiring and more tenant demand,” Lawlor says. He predicts that 2003 will be a flat year for office-leasing production with a recovery beginning in 2004 and an “owner-friendly environment” taking hold sometime in 2005.

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