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HOUSTON-After receiving 22 offers, the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund in New York City has sold three office buildings, totaling 540,560 sf, in the Houston Galleria submarket to Unilev Capital Corp. of Beverly Hills, CA. Industry sources say the final price hovered between $80 per sf to $90 per sf.

The buildings went on the market in April. David Chuoke with the local office of Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. tells GlobeSt.com that the June bid deadline brought in offers from three REITs as well as pension funds and private investors. He believes the interest in the portfolio was “driven by the quality of the location,” all class B buildings along streets with name recognition. The buyer secured financing from GMAC Capital to close the transaction.

The sold properties are the 198,428-sf 6363 Woodway Dr., which is 90% occupied; 163,071-sf 7500 San Felipe St., 82% leased; and 179,061-sf 1616 Voss Rd., 79% filled. The three parcels equate to 8.4 acres in one of the city’s most prestigious submarkets, but one that admittedly has suffered throughout the downturn.

Chuoke and Kenneth W. Page, also with C&W in Houston, represented Morgan Stanley, which was disposing of the properties as a part of the normal portfolio pruning process. Chuoke says the seller acquired the properties about four years ago under a limited partnership, MSDW Office Partners.

Chuoke says the portfolio presented a high-income, low-risk opportunity for the buyer. The tenant roster has more than 100 tenants with mostly short-term leases so one or two tenants can’t break the property with a move-out. A Grubb & Ellis Co. team in Houston will lease the asset while Unilev, owner of about 13 million sf in the city, will handle management in house.

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