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OAK BROOK, IL-The name may be Inland Western Retail Real Estate Trust, but that continues to have little bearing when the REIT finds attractive office assets east of the Mississippi River. Most recently, Inland Western Retail has paid $300 million for six office buildings, four of them in the Eastern US, totaling 2.3 million sf.

The assets have one thing in common—they are being sold and leased back by American Express Travel Related Services and American Express Financial Corp. Deals are in the works for another two buildings, totaling 300,000 sf, for $90 million.

The largest asset was the 541,542-sf granite and glass building at 1001 N. 3rd Avenue South in Minneapolis. In addition, Inland Western Retail added a 389,377-sf building at 7701 Airport Center in Greensboro, NC and 376,348-sf asset at 777 American Expressway in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

In Phoenix, the REIT added 555,000 sf in 20022 N. 31st Ave. and 20002 N. 19th Ave. The other asset east of the Mississippi is a 132,336-sf building at 3500 Packerland Dr. in DePere, WI.

“The attraction is not necessarily the property type, but the quality and location of the property along with the reliable, guaranteed income stream they will provide,” says Inland Real Estate Acquisitions chairman Joe Cosenza. “We’re getting an A-plus credit tenant who will be in these properties for a long time to come.”

That also was the thinking last month when Inland Western Retail Real Estate paid $138 million for the 895,418-sf Zurich American Towers at 1400 and 1450 E. American Ln. in Schaumburg. Namesake tenant Zurich American Insurance Co. can stay there for up to 37 years under its sale-leaseback. Similarly, GMAC Insurance Management Corp. signed a 10-year, triple-net lease for its former 501,064-sf office property in Winston-Salem, NC, which Inland Western Retail Real Estate bought for $60 million in October.

American Express also signed triple-net leases on the properties it sold, with initial terms of 10 years with six five-year options. Jeff Hughes with the Stan Johnson Cos. represented Inland Western in the transactions.

“Sale-leasebacks like this are becoming more common,” Cosenza says. “For the tenants and their investors, sale-leasebacks afford a chance to recognize the full value of a property immediately. For us, it affords us a good stream of stable rental income.”

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