PHOENIX-In a value-add play, Crown West Realty LLC, headquartered in New York City, and Travelers Cos. Inc. joined forces to acquire the 109,332-sf Corporate Center. The partnership acquired the 45%-occupied back-office building for $17.3 million, with plans to lease up and stabilize the northwest-side building.

Bob Olshan, vice president with Crown West and head of the Phoenix office, says the asset at 10400 N. 25th Ave. was brought to the joint venture’s attention by the local office of CB Richard Ellis Co., which represented Scottsdale-based seller International Capital Partners. “This was a well-located property in great condition, with very little capital improvements needing to be done,” Olshan explains. “The value-add to us is that it’s more than 50% vacant. It’s a lease-up play for us.”

Mike Sawyer, director, and Tim Whittemore, senior director with Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona Inc.’s Phoenix office, had the leasing assignment when ICP owned the building, and Olshan says they’ll continue working on filling it up. He points out that the departure of Hartford Insurance Co.’s western regional office in June 2007 left a whole floor vacant, which is something the buyer knew when it went under contract. “We’re looking either for a full-floor tenant, or we can break it up,” Olshan says.

He tells that Crown West’s relationship with Travelers of St. Paul is opportunistic, rather than goal-driven. “When a deal makes sense to both of us, we do it,” he says, adding that the partnership has no acquisitions or dispositions in the pipeline.

The joint venture acquired two assets in late 2004. These were 11 buildings totaling 440,000 sf in Arizona Business Park between Bell and Greenway roads and Interstate 17, and the 234,282-sf Camelback Center at 2355 E. Camelback Rd. Crown West and Travelers sold Camelback Center earlier this year for $325 per sf.

In acquiring Corporate Center, the buyer assumed an existing loan representing a 65% LTV. Barry Gabel, Mindy Korth and Mark Dancer of CBRE’s Phoenix office represented ICP. Jerry Noble, Pat Devine and Greg Mayer, also with CBRE’s Phoenix office, negotiated on behalf of the joint venture.

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