HOUSTON-After searching the market for nearly a year, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network has decided to relocate a regional headquarters from 5718 Westheimer Rd. to One Riverway, a class A-plus, 25-story office tower in the northern part of the Galleria submarket.

The insurance company signed a 10-year lease for 30,000 sf, increasing its space from 18,000 sf, says Eric Johnson, managing director of Transwestern Commercial Services, who represented the building owner Prudential Financial. “Northwestern Mutual made a conscious decision to align themselves in real estate product that (meshes) with their image,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “Moving to One Riverway was really an image decision rather than just economics.”

Johnson says Northwestern Mutual liked One Riverway’s treed setting and proximity to the Omni Hotel and Houstonian. “They have a lot clients who come in from out of town and they need a nice place to stay,” he says.

According to Johnson, winning the Northwestern Mutual’s lease was a coup for the 480,000-sf building that was built in 1979. “This was a highly competitive deal–every landlord in the Galleria wanted this deal because of the quality and credit of NorthwesternMutual,” he says. “We got more aggressive on this deal than we have on any other transaction.”

Johnson adds the lease stabilizes the building, taking it from 88% occupied to 94%. One Riverway’s quoted rental rate is $21 per sf.

Northwestern Mutual, which will move into the office in January 2005, was represented in the transaction by Anthony Fritsche, senior vice president, and David Anderson, senior associate, both with Trammell Crow Co. in Houston.

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