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DALLAS-Grabbing its first deed in Texas, the New York City-based Moinian Group has partnered with a long-time business associate, SMA Equities, to come out on top in a fast-paced, high-priced race for the 1.7-million-sf Renaissance Tower. Industry sources say the CBD landmark brought $143.5 million as part of the clean-up action from the $8.9-billion takeover of Trizec Properties Inc.

“It’s our first, but not our last,” Steve Bederman, Moinian’s executive vice president, promises GlobeSt.com. He says the team’s been looking for awhile to get into Dallas. SMA Equities, also from New York City, has been in town since 2002 as the owner of the 1.1-million-sf Republic Center at 325 N. Paul St. “We had the benefit of their experience,” he says. “It was an easy partnership. They’re longstanding friends.”

Bederman says the private JV “has no exit plan” for 1201 Elm St., the city’s second-largest office building. “We buy assets that really like and we keep them,” he stresses. “We’re really happy with this asset. It’s a great asset in a Downtown market that’s improving.” The deal closed with a loan from Wachovia Bank.

The 56-story trophy, with its distinctive green “double X” lighting and five-point rooftop crown, emerged as “for sale” space in the shakeout by the New York City-based powerhouse of Blackstone Group and Brookfield Properties Corp. in their buyout of Trizec. The Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. team of Andrea Peskind, executive director, and Brad Thornburg, director, represented the seller.

Renaissance Tower’s new owners are starting out with 83% occupancy and weighted average lease terms of 81 months. The lead tenants are Blockbuster Inc., Neiman Marcus Group, Southwest Securities, Godwin Pappas Langley Ronquillo and Winstead Sechrest & Minick. The quintet, accounting for 49% of the space, has an average of 10 years remaining on each pact. In line with the takeover, Moinian plans to manage the prize, but has hired Trammell Crow Co. to lease it.

Bederman says the JV isn’t planning any marked changes. “It shows beautifully. We don’t have to anything different,” he explains. “We just have to market it and lease it up.”

The Dallas newcomer was part of an investment group that bought the Sears Tower in Chicago in 2005. Just three months ago, it bought four acres in Downtown Los Angeles for a residential-and-retail project. The firm is regarded as one of the industry’s most active development firms, but Bederman says that’s not part of the present-day Texas plan.

The 32-year-old Renaissance Tower underwent a $105-million makeover in 1991. The Crystal Court Atrium, a nine-story glass pyramid base, has 17 stores and restaurants at ground and below-ground levels. It also has a 12-story, above-ground parking garage with nearly 1,100 spaces.

“This high-profile, class A property is consistent with our overall commercial investment strategy of acquiring and developing high-profile commercial and residential properties in major markets nationwide and an excellent opportunity for our first venture in the resurgent Dallas CBD,” Joseph Moinian, CEO and president, says in a press release.

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