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PHOENIX-A prime eight-building office complex has changed hands in a $15.75-million deal that bought La Jolla based Equus Realty Advisors title to a 240,000-sf property known as the Valley Commerce Center.

It was Equus’ 10th acquisition in the Phoenix market in four years. “We’ve made a commitment to Arizona,” President Chad Carpenter tells GlobeSt.com of the company’s acquisitions. “We’re going to continue to grow here.”

The firm, a real estate investment adviser and “opportunity” buyer of office and industrial properties in the western US, grabbed the complex at 4745 and 4747 N. 7th St. in a deal with seller SOFI IV, an opportunity fund associated with Starwood Capital. Rob Rizzi of Broad Street Advisors in New York City represented buyer and seller in the transaction.

Carpenter said the realty acquisition company liked the property because of its low cost per-sf cost and the opportunity it provided to increase tenant occupancy. “It had the opportunity for significant upside,” he added.

Situated at a prime Phoenix juncture marked by the convergence of the Downtown North, Squaw Peak, Midtown and Camelback Corridor submarkets, the property is comprised of two four-story office buildings totaling 214,000 sf, both constructed in the mid-1980s, and six one-story office and industrial buildings constructed in the 1970s that contain about 26,000 sf.

With a 78% occupancy rate at sale time, Equus’ plans an aggressive leasing strategy to fill vacancies, including offers of free rent and generous moving and improvement allowances for prospective tenants. If that strategy holds up under tough competition, the firm could meet its goal of leasing an additional 25,000 sf in its first year of ownership. By the end of year two, Equus is projecting an additional 25,000 sf of occupancy.

The firm is already targeting new tenants with a capital improvement plan designed to improve the complex’s signs and upgrade landscaping and parking facilities.

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