MINNEAPOLIS-Equity Office Properties Trust of Chicago has sold the 929,694-sf US Bancorp Center in Downtown Minneapolis to Atlanta-based Wells Real Estate Investment Trust for $174 million. Wells paid cash for the property.

US Bancorp Center was developed in 2000 and is considered one of the premier buildings in downtown Minneapolis. US Bancorp Piper Jaffray occupies 77% of the 30-story building on a long-term lease. Northern States Power Co. occupies another 55,363 sf. Together, the two credit tenants account for 83% of the building’s 99.43% occupancy.

Equity Office acquired the building in the company’s merger with Cornerstone Properties in June 2000. The company is expected to continue to lease and manage the property.

Wells REIT purchases existing class A office and industrial properties leased long term to major, creditworthy tenants and professional firms. The company says it is targeting 2003 acquisitions of $2.5 billion. In 2002, Wells completed 30 transactions totaling about $1.4 billion, earning it the title of the largest purchaser of class A office buildings in the United States.

Wells Chief Investment Officer David Steinwedell was not immediately available for comment Friday morning. Wells manages more than $2.8 billion in assets for 80,000 investors nationwide through its three investment vehicles: the Wells REIT, the Wells S&P REIT Index Fund and the Wells limited partnerships.

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