SAN JOSE, CA-Legacy Partners is reportedly under contract to acquire a vacant, 381,000-sf class A office building at 488 Almaden Blvd. from BEA Systems, multiple industry sources tell BEA acquired the 17-story building in April 2007 along with the attached 1,100-slip parking structure for $135.3 million or $355 per sf. Built by Sobrato Cos. in 2002, the 17-story building has never been occupied. BEA had spent an additional $6.5 million renovating the building in preparation for a mid-2008 move-in when it halted work in March after it became clear it would be acquired by Oracle, according to SEC filings. The $8.6-billion transaction was consummated in April 2008; BEA put the building up for sale the next month through Eastdil Secured. The players directly involved either declined comment or could not immediately be reached for comment Friday morning.

Legacy’s purchase price is expected to come in somewhere around $100 million, one local investment broker familiar with the transaction tells Add in the $15- to $20 million the company will need to spend on tenant improvements and its cost rises above $300 per sf, which is well below replacement cost but appropriate given the current class A asking lease rate in Downtown San Jose, which is approximately $33 per sf, and the fact that it could take some time for Legacy to lease up the building given the market’s 20% vacancy rate.

Regardless, local investment and leasing brokers tell it behooved Legacy to make sure it was the high bidder for the property because it is the largest office landlord in Downtown San Jose with more than 1 million sf. With 488 Almaden, that number will rise to nearly 2 million sf, or approximately 22% of the overall market and a larger share of the class A market. Local leasing specialists tell that Legacy could not afford to have someone else acquire the property at a discount and then lure tenants away from existing and planned Legacy buildings with lower rents. Bids for the asset reportedly came in as low as $200 per sf.

Legacy owns several Downtown San Jose assets including Riverpark Towers, where it in the midst of adding a second 300,000-sf office building on a speculative basis. Its other Downtown assets include Almaden Financial Plaza and Horizon Center. Vacancy in the 3.5 million-sf class A office market in Downtown San Jose eclipsed 20% in the second quarter due to approximately 300,000 sf of negative net absorption, according to Cornish & Carey Commercial.

BEA Systems acquired 488 Almaden from the Sobrato Family Foundation, a charitable foundation of Sobrato Development Cos., which also owns BEA Systems San Jose existing headquarters, two buildings at 2314-2345 North First St. totaling 111,000 sf. According to BEA’s 2007 annual report filed in March 2008, the company’s total investment in the building is approximately $371 per sf. Given that, if the estimated sale price to Legacy is accurate and the transaction includes the parking structure, BEA Systems is losing approximately $41 million on the sale.

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