MINNEAPOLIS-Welsh Cos. has bought International Centre I & II at 900 and 920 2nd Ave. Downtown. Although the parties did not publicly disclose the price for the towers, which have a total of 614,193 sf, industry sources estimates put the price at $40 million.

Welsh says it plans to aggressively pursue tenants to fill the 65% of available space, which could include building naming rights for a large tenant. Welsh has focused mostly on suburban properties in the past, and the International Centre complex is its first in the central business district.

Welsh, based in Bloomington, owns about seven million sf of office, industrial and retail space in the Midwest, mostly in Minnesota and Ohio. Among its other properties is the 440,000-sf Southdale Office Centre in Edina.

“This acquisition is consistent with our investment philosophy of buying well located buildings, in markets we know and serve,” says Bob Angleson, president of Welsh Cos. Angleson says that the “market dynamics and expected increase in demand for space in the Downtown corridor” were the main reasons that attracted Welsh to buy the property.

Leasing and management duties of the 614,193-sf towers will be handled by Welsh Cos.’ employees, including Mike Perkins, senior vice president; Nils Snyder, senior associate; and Greg Moltumyr, associate. Larry Barnett, general manager, who has more than 20 years of experience managing office buildings, will manage the property.

The buildings were offered by an affiliate of Travelers Insurance Co., which took ownership of the property in August 2003 after the previous owners–a partnership of Zeller Realty of Chicago and ING Realty Partners–ran into financial difficulties. Travelers financed the $59-million sale of the late 1980s vintage buildings in 1998.

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