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DALLAS-Metropolitan Real Estate Advisors, picking up the play from two fallen-out contracts, has closed on Bank One Center, a 1.53-million-sf icon in Downtown Dallas. The highly publicized hand-off, which has been in play since mid-June, has brought $216 million for the nine-year owners.

“We felt at the end of the day that this was the best buyer and the one that was able to perform–and they did,” John Goff, vice chairman and CEO for Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities Co., tells GlobeSt.com. “It was price and performance.” Crescent and Trizec Properties Inc., now under control of the New York City-based Blackstone Group, owned the 87%-leased high rise at 1717 Main St. in a 50-50% partnership. Crescent will keep the management keys while Trizec’s Don Dowell, has been hired by the buyer to continue leasing the 60-story landmark.

Metropolitan stepped up for the deal in mid-October after an offer fell out from Miami-based American Ventures Realty Corp., which put its contract on the table after the best-and-final winner, CB Richard Ellis Investors of Los Angeles, pulled out. Goff says he can’t remember all the stickling points for the fallen-out contracts, but did say “when we enter into an agreement, we don’t want to re-trade.”

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP’s executive managing director Mark Gibson, senior managing director Andrew Levy and director Todd Savage brokered the prized sale, which factors out to $141 per sf. The team ended up right on target with its early prediction that the trophy sale would top $200 million.

Goff’s long-time philosophy is not to fall in love with portfolio pieces, even though Bank One Center is considered one of the city’s finest structures and a crown jewel much like the Crescent complex in Uptown. “We don’t get emotionally tied to any property,” Goff says, “but it’s a great asset. With the appetite from investors, it was a smart time to sell it.”

The trophy’s lead tenants, on paper, is Chase Bank, which has 350,000 sf locked down until 2010, and TXU Energy Services, which has 130,838 sf tied down until 2011. When the offering hit the streets, ORIX USA Corp. already had subleased 100,000 sf of the bank’s space.

Metropolitan’s move on Dallas is just indicative of two years of steady sales, with out-of-towners picking up most of the deeds. “This deal solidifies the trend of sales to out-of-town private capital buyers. The trend is significant because private buyers will bring a new approach and energy to leasing Downtown buildings,” says John Alvarado, senior vice president for locally based Trammell Crow Co. “I think this new breed of capital in Downtown will help the submarket be more active on the leasing front, which will complement the residential and infrastructure improvements in the district.”

The JV sellers had about $105 million in debt that came due Dec. 1 riding against the asset, designed by the last Philip Johnson and John Burgee Architects. Metropolitan placed new financing.

Blackstone, which declined to comment for the article, has just one Dallas asset remaining from the Trizec acquisition: the 1.18-million-sf Plaza of the Americas along Pearl Street, also a JV holding. Word on the street is it will be sold, but quite yet. The disposition, to date, has brought more than $250 million for 1.42-million-sf Galleria Towers I, II and III in North Dallas and $144 million for the 1.74-million-sf Renaissance Tower at 1201 Elm St.

With the Bank One deal now done, Goff says he “has some ideas” to redeploy Crescent’s share of the gain, but nothing has been firmed up as yet. But then again, Crescent is still collecting gains from this year’s sales, with more possibly on the way. Two days ago, Crescent sold Three Westlake Park in Houston. “We still have work to do,” Goff says. “We are working on a number of things that may happen by the end of the year.”

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