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FORT WORTH–In an off-market deal, an affiliate of Benbrooke Realty Investment Co. of White Plains, NY, completed acquisition of the Electric Delivery Building, a 300,000-sf office building at Main and 7th streets in Downtown Fort Worth. The sales price for the 16-story building, regarded as a local landmark, was not released.

Built in 1952 as the headquarters for Fort Worth National Bank, the Electric Building currently houses the Oncor division of TXU Corp. Oncor occupies 75% of the space on a long-term leasehold. A number of smaller tenants occupy suites in the building.

Benbrooke principal Craig Gutow says the company plans to create a comprehensive regional and local marketing campaign to attract additional tenants. Stationed in the firm’s Dallas office, Gutow will head the leasing effort and coordinate the eventual local leasing representation. The Fort Worth office of Trinity Interests will serve as property manager.

Company asset manager George Ackerman, also a Benbrooke principal, reports the buyer intends to implement an aggressive asset management plan for the property, making select improvements to enhance its appeal, amenities and functionality for both current and prospective tenants. “We hope to realize a modernization of the property while retaining the heritage and charm of this important landmark,” he says.

According to Karen Simon, executive vice-president and managing director of the Fort Worth office of Bradford Commercial Realty Services, the building has a rich history in Fort Worth. Simon and Bradford vice president Ben Brown represented both Benbrooke and the seller, the locally based Baron Investments Ltd., in the transaction.

“It continues to be a thriving property and is a landmark that the new owners pledge to protect,” Simon observes. “The fact that Benbrooke is spending a great deal of money for the property says a lot for the perception of Fort Worth as a sound, growing economy.”

Simon tells GlobeSt.com the deal came about when Benbrooke principals asked if she could help them find a building to buy in Downtown Fort Worth. She approached the managing partner of Baron Investments, who agreed to entertain an unsolicited offer from Benbrooke. Negotiations took about 90 days, due to certain complications.

“Part of the building sits on land held under a ground lease,” she explains. “So Benbrooke had to arrange to acquire that land or have the lease transferred to them with a very long extension. They also had to deal with the fact that a single long-term tenant occupied 75% of the space and that some of the other space had not been updated in a very long time.”

In Simon’s view, Forth Worth has one of the strongest downtown office markets in the US, thanks in large part to the number of major oil exploration companies moving into town and leasing large blocks of space or buying buildings for their own use. “The office market is very strong,” she says. “I’ve seen surveys saying we have a 4% vacancy factor. I’ve seen some that say we have 8%. Regardless of which is correct, it’s certainly very low.”

Richard Lubkin, a third Benbrooke principal, agrees the market is very solid from an investment perspective. “We believe that Fort Worth will continue to be one of the strongest downtowns and office markets in the United States today,” he says.

Rick Lechtman of New York City’s Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group LLC secured debt financing for the transaction through Wells Fargo Bank.

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