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WASHINGTON, DC-Ownership of the class A office buildings known as One and Two Independence Square changed hands in a $345-million deal between the properties’ developer Boston Properties and buyer Atlanta, GA-based Wells Real Estate Investment Trust. Just over a decade old, the two nine-story structures account for a total of nearly 950,000 sf of office and ground-level retail space in the District’s southwest area.

One Independence–the smaller of the two structures at approximately 348,000 sf–is fully occupied by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which has made the building its headquarters since its completion in 1991. The Comptroller preleased its offices in late 1989 in a 15-year, $149 million deal. Its lease expires in 2006. Independence Two is just over 601,000 sf and its offices are 100% occupied by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA’s lease is not due to expire until 2012.

For Boston Properties, disposing of the two-building trophy property is part of a company strategy of recycling capital in an effort to finance its purchase of the building at 399 Park Ave. in New York. “The sale of these premier buildings illustrates the value and desirability of our assets,” says Boston Properties chairman Mortimer B. Zuckerman. “The quality, location and tenancy of One and Two Independence Square are representative of our premier class A portfolio of properties.” Net funds secured from the Independence Square transaction are being directed toward the repayment of $190 million in first mortgage debt, and toward payment on other unsecured indebtedness.

Having plunked down more than one-third of a billion dollars, Wells shares Boston Properties’ assessment of the two buildings. “This property is truly a great asset in every sense and represents a tremendous value to our investors,” Wells chief investment officer David Steinwedell says. “We’ve been seeking an opportunity to further geographically diversify our REIT portfolio by entering the Washington, DC market.”

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