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HOUSTON-A local investment and management company has acquired the 416,000-sf Houston Club Building, a CBD landmark pushing 60 years old, from JPMorgan Chase & Co. Similar buildings have gone for $100 per sf to $150 per sf.

“The most likely thing we’ll do is fix it up and lease it up the way we do our other buildings,” says Dougal Cameron, whose namesake firm bought the holding at 811 Rusk St. He says all options are being explored, including residential and hotel.

JPMorgan Chase will be moving out of the building, which has parking on lower levels. Cameron tells GlobeSt.com that to bring the class B asset up to class A standards would be around $30 million and require two years to complete. A hotel retrofit could cost as much as $150 million, he says. “There’s a lot of people competing and pitching us for ideas of what we can do with the building,” Cameron says.

Built in 1948, the 18-story tower was marketed to select buyers because JPMorgan Chase is consolidating its space in Houston as it has elsewhere in the US. Studley senior vice president Mark Russell and managing director Drew Morris have led the consolidation campaign. The JPMorgan team occupies 1.4 million sf in the Downtown, including the historic JPMorgan Chase Building at 712 Main St.

Although Studley’s reputation is that of a tenant rep, a company insider tells GlobeSt.com that a client will occasionally request its services for investment sales, which is what happened.

“It’s good timing in the market and with the consolidation, they figured if they weren’t going to use it, it would be the right time to sell,” says Russell, who with Morris brokered the transaction.

Russell says Cameron Management was the best buyer because it already owns a similar asset, the nearby 570,000-sf Esperson buildings at 808 Travis St. “Everyone figured they’d be a good keeper for that type of building,” he adds. “We needed someone with the right kind of perspective to work with this.”

The structure was developed by Jesse H. Jones, publisher of the Houston Chronicle. The Houston Club, founded in 1894, occupies 80,000 sf in the upper floors while street-level retail space is leased to Antone’s and Hunan restaurants. The building also boasts direct access to the Downtown tunnel system, where there’s additional retail space.

Cameron says the building fits in well with its strategy to acquire class C and B buildings, renovate and operate them at class A standards. “What we’re trying to do is attract value-conscious office tenants who want quality surroundings,” he says. “Once those tenants are there, they have a tendency to stay put.”

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