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ST. PAUL-Zeller Realty Corp. sold Wells Fargo Place, a 634,895-sf class A office tower, to Unilev Capital Corp. of Beverly Hills, CA, in a transaction that closed at the end of October. Chicago-based Zeller will continue to lease and manage the 37-story building at 30 E. Seventh St.

Scott Pollock, vice president of investment services for Bloomington, MN-based United Properties, says the deal marks the fourth major sale in Downtown St. Paul this year. The year’s transactions, which add up to about 1.5 million sf of space, also include U.S. Bank Center, Galtier Plaza and UBS Plaza. According to United Properties, an additional 1.5 million sf of space has already hit the market and another 500,000 sf is expected to be added soon.

“Demand for CBD investment has been phenomenal nationwide,” says Pollock, who’s company marketed and sold the 227,000-sf UBS Plaza. “The market is finding out more and more about St. Paul and there is some optimism in the Twin Cities market over time. We’re starting to see a greater variety of owners than ever before.”

Unilev, a new buyer to the Twin Cities market, is a privately-held real estate investment company that primarily focuses on stabilized assets in Texas, Colorado and California. Bill Buth, president of the Greater St. Paul Building Owners and Managers Association, says that investment activity from national buyers like Unilev and local buyers like Hempel Properties in the past year is a sign of confidence in the market. He adds that the 662,000-sf First National Bank Building, where he has an office, also is expected to change hands soon.

“There is a fair amount of money that is looking for investments, and has found that there are some good investments in St. Paul,” Buth tells GlobeSt.com. “We’ve got some value here, people like this city, and they’ve done their due diligence.” The sales price for Wells Fargo Place has not been released. The assessed market value of the building for 2006 property taxes payable in 2007 is approximately $54 million, according to the Ramsey County tax assessor’s office.

Zeller purchased Wells Fargo Place, which was then known as the Minnesota World Trade Center, in July 2000. During its six years as owner, Zeller upgraded the building’s three-story atrium, converting it to retail, and landed Wells Fargo as a major tenant. Other tenants include Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Internal Revenue Service, Merrill Lynch and UBS Financial Services. The building’s name was changed to Wells Fargo Place in May 2003.

Eden Prairie, MN-based Northstar Partners represented Zeller in the sale. Calls to the Chicago and St. Paul offices of Zeller and the offices of Unilev and Northstar Partners were not returned at press time.

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