HOUSTON-The Koll Co., staking its first claim in Greater Houston, has partnered with the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho to buy 13 office and flex buildings for $24.4 million from Dallas-based Invesco Real Estate. The package was 66% leased at sale time.

Bill Larkin, acquisition and development manager for the Newport Beach-based buyer, says the northwest Houston purchase represents geographic diversification for the investment group, which typically has been focused on West Coast states. The new investment also is in an area that has good growth potential. “The size of the portfolio is a good foothold in the market,” he says. “It also fits our product type, which is generally focused on small tenants.”

Larkin tells GlobeSt.com that the buildings will require upgrades and enhancements, but no major renovations. Additionally, he sees upside in the rent growth in the 1980s-era mix of buildings.

The portfolio’s assets are within 10 miles of each other. The package includes the seven-building, 176,864-sf Westport Business Center on 9.8 acres at West Loop 610 and Interstate 10 and two-building, 62,210-sf Westway Business Center on 3.69 acres on Beltway 8 between Interstate 10 and US Hwy. 290. The buyer also got a stake in Pinemont Business Park: the 54,740-sf, two-building Pineway Business Center on 5.5 acres at the intersection of Hempstead Highway and Pinemont Drive and the 86,196-sf, two-building Pinehill Business Center on 4.2 acres on Clay Road.

Transwestern Houston’s managing director Brian Gammill and vice president Jude Filippone represented Invesco. Koll used in-house representation. Gammill, Filippone and Transwestern senior vice president Darryl Noon will handle leasing and management.

Larkin says the Invesco portfolio is only the beginning of Koll’s investment in Houston. “We’re not chasing anything actively now, but we’ll evaluate opportunities as they come up and hope to buy several more projects in 2008,” he says.

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