CHICAGO-Behringer Harvard REIT I has purchased the 35-story 222 S. Riverside Plaza as well as the adjacent three-story Union Station Multiplex at 444 W. Jackson Blvd. from Beacon Capital Strategic Partners III, LP. The purchase, which rings in at $277.5 million, is the fund’s first Chicago-area investment.

“We have absolutely known that Chicago was a city with a strong economic underpinning,” Jason Mattox, executive vice president with Behringer, tells “Chicago was a city where we wanted an asset that would make an impact, and this was the right entrance for us into that market.”

Mattox says the acquisition had “the right recipe for a long-term hold.” Most importantly, he says, was the building’s “strong” tenant base. Occupants in the 1.1-million-sf office building include Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, which recently signed an early renewal for its 35,000 sf, Deutsche Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Trading Technologies.

Management and leasing of the Riverside Plaza properties has been assigned to Trammell Crow Co. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and constructed in 1971, Riverside was renovated in 2001 and again during the during the past two years. In 2004, Beacon Capital paid $192 million for the 1.1-million-sf asset, or $175 per sf.

Mattox says the deal is in line with the strategy of Harvard REIT I. The fund, created in 2002, specifically targets office properties in highly desirable locations in markets with barriers to entry. The properties are acquired for their projected ability to withstand the inevitable changes in economic conditions and their potential to appreciate in value during an eight- to 12-year period.

At the end of the first quarter, the fund had an inventory of 6.3 million sf within 24 buildings. Assets of the fund include the Woodcrest Corporate Center in Philadelphia; Burnett Plaza in Fort Worth; Buena Vista Plaza in Los Angeles; and One Financial Plaza in Minneapolis.

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