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DALLAS-In a pre-emptive play for a North Texas inroad, a Los Angeles-based investment group has grabbed the deed to the three-building LBJ Financial Center from Harwood International Inc. An industry expert estimates the 361,600-sf, class B office sale brought $65 per sf to $85 per sf at the closing table.

Julie Morris, president of Dallas-based Harwood Living, tells GlobeSt.com that Denley Investment & Management Co. closed the deal six days after calling about the LBJ Freeway-fronting property. “They came to town, saw it, loved it, it was what they were looking for and they bought it,” she says. “The price was good. The timing was good. The buyers were good. It was perfect. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better buyer.” Denley principal David Bolour couldn’t be reached by publication time to discuss the purchase.

The Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP team of managing director Barry Brown, associate director Todd Savage and analyst Elizabeth Malone had made the “best and final call” when Denley stepped up with a bid on a no-ask offering for a 1980s-era complex with a 58%-leased, 92,426-sf building at 5520 LBJ Freeway; 66%-occupied, 179,284-sf structure at 5550 LBJ Freeway; and a 75%-filled, 89,890-sf design at 5580 LBJ Freeway. “It was an incredibly fast-moving process when it happened,” Brown says. “For anything with any complexity, that’s the fastest deal that I’ve had.”

Morris says Harwood will lease and manage the asset for the time being for the 1031 exchange buyer, which was turning around gain from a sale in its homeport. Harwood bought LBJ Financial Center about a decade ago.

Comparable sales in the LBJ Mid-Market area have been hovering $70 per sf. “The fact that they were selling in the $70-per-sf range in that area for a B building, I’d say it would be in the $65- to $85-per-sf range,” says George Roddy Sr., president of Roddy Information Services.

The California buyer has picked out a submarket that logged 720,000 sf of positive absorption in the second quarter, according to Roddy’s DFWRealSmart analysis. The 41-building inventory, with 8.8 million sf, has a 77% average occupancy and $16.16 per sf median rent. The quoted rate for LBJ Financial Center is $16.50 per sf.

The complex sits on about six acres at the intersection of LBJ Freeway and the Dallas North Tollway, a class A location with additional build-out capability due to its all-surface parking component. “If you wanted to do structured parking, you could do a lot more there,” Morris says.

The locally based Harwood has started selling assets outside Uptown and Downtown Dallas lines. “It was time to refocus our business,” Morris says of this year’s decision. “We are concentrating on Uptown.” In recent months, the developer broke ground on the Azure, a $100-million JV project with 202 condos at 2900 McKinnon St. Beyond that, Morris says plans are in the works to develop the ninth phase for Saint Ann Court at 2515 N. Harwood St., which has been proposed as 24-story, 282,815-sf office building, but is subject to change. “We are not ready to unveil that,” she says.

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