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DALLAS-Beating out 50 buyers, Argus Realty Investors LP of San Clemente, CA has acquired the 93-year-old, 131,284-sf, 98%-leased Landmark Center in the city’s historic west end district for $20.3 million or $151 per sf. The new owner of record is Argus Growth/Income Fund LP.

The seller of the six-story, class B, loft-style office structure at 1810 N. Lamar St. was CDK Realty Advisors of Dallas which had owned the building since 2004. CDK had purchased the brick-clad property at that time for a retirement pension fund. The FBI occupied 96% of the building for its Dallas regional headquarters in the late 1970s.

CDK principal Jon Donahue says his company narrowed the bidding down to 25, then to 10 semi-final bidders and then to two finalists. “We chose Argus because they were ready to close and we were familiar with them,” Donahue explains. “The other finalist offered a little higher price but we went for certainty of close.”

Countrywide Commercial Real Estate Finance of Calabasas, CA provided Argus with a 10-year, $14.9 million fixed rate acquisition loan. Argus will pay interest only for the first five years of the loan. Countrywide First Vice President Derek Layne handled the loan. Argus selected the Dallas office of CB Richard Ellis to manage the building.

Landmark Center is the latest of the near century old properties in Downtown Dallas to be totally renovated and repositioned as urban loft offices, notes Haris Totakhail, regional vice president of Argus Realty. “There is a strong demand in Dallas by smaller, creative-minded companies for large open offices in restored vintage buildings.” Totakhail teamed with James Drever, senior vice president of acquisitions for the Midwest and Texas, on the deal.

Drever tells GlobeSt.com the deal was done at this time because CDK is “a value add player whose goals are to refurbish properties and bring them to their highest occupancy in the shortest period of time” before selling them. “They’re not a ‘hold’ type of investor,” Drever adds.Jeremy Leonard, vice president of operations for the Landmark Center Partnership, says that when CDK acquired the vacant property in 2004, the company retained Dallas-based Five Smooth Stones to “convert it into a 21st century office building with 19th century charm.” After the transformation, Totakhail says Landmark Center “went from empty to 98% leased in under 12 months.” There are 21 tenants in the building. Major tenants include Rees Associates Inc., Ambit Energy, Innodata Isogen, Teknion and Cinco Media Communications.

Jan Blackmon, vice president of operations for Rees Associates that collaborated with CDK to design its fifth and sixth floor offices, calls the property “a sleeper building on a busy corner with a maze of really small offices.”

Drever says the property is in a class A location, across from the West End Station of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail system and minutes from the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Interstate 35, US 75 and the Dallas North Tollway. Landmark Center is also one of the few buildings in the area with both surface and underground parking.

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