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HOUSTON-Making an aggressive effort to expand its Greater Houston footprint, Younan Properties Inc. has closed on a 172,739-sf office building in the southwest submarket. The $7-million acquisition is the first of a contracted 912,932 million sf of office space, valued at $150 million, that’s set to close in 30 to 60 days.

Zaya Younan, chairman and CEO of Younan Properties Inc., says the four-building buying spree is only the beginning. “We’re ahead of schedule to have five million sf of office space in Houston by year end,” he explains. “We’ll finish acquiring remaining the square footage within the next 12 months.”

The four buildings are located in different submarkets, but “they’re connected together through short driving distances,” Younan says. They also represent value-add opportunities for the Los Angeles-based company.

Younan says $5 million will be put into upgrading the just-bought 6464 Savoy Dr. He says the other buildings won’t need quite as much renovation. The Savoy Drive building, built in 1980, is just 30% leased. The Grubb & Ellis Co. team of Darrell Betts in Houston and Scot Farber in Dallas represented the Dallas-based seller, LSF 5 Savoy LLC.

Younan tells GlobeSt.com that he’s been watching the Houston market for five years in anticipation of a recovery. But the speed of that recovery, he acknowledges, took him by surprise. “The acceleration was very significant,” he says. “We saw rents going up and saw positive absorption. We thought the economy was strong so we pushed our purchase much faster than we’d thought.”

Although Younan’s goal is to control five million sf of office space in Houston, he’s not locked into the number. “I promised myself I’d stop at five million sf in Dallas,” he says. “We’re up to eight million sf now and are not ready to stop.” Younan, who sold some Houston buildings last year, still owns 206,680-sf Norfolk Tower at 2211 Norfolk St., which was bought in March 2006.

Younan has the following assets under contract:

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