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CHICAGO-Grubb & Ellis has reached a deal to sell the 522,000-square-foot Congress Center at a price that was $6 million less than was last paid for the property in 2003. Despite the expectation that the building would sell for as much as $150 million when it went on the market in February of this year, Franklin Street Properties is set to buy the property for $130 million, assuming $97.5 million in debt that will mature in 2014, according to a SEC filing.

Grubb & Ellis reportedly assumed the building, at 525 W. Van Buren St., last year, after merging with NNN Realty Advisors, the parent company of real estate investment firms including Triple Net Properties, which last purchased the 16-story property five years ago. Grubb & Ellis representatives confirmed the planned sale to Franklin Street and the expected sale price, but declined to comment further on the deal.

The building was completed in 2001 and has a 40-space indoor parking garage in addition to a 1,700-car parking garage. The building has a lobby with 20-foot ceilings and column-free floors with a center-core design. The asking lease rate for the building is $19.50 per square foot, net, according to published Grubb & Ellis information. Asking lease rates in the West Loop submarket average around $38.

The property was around 80% leased earlier this year, a low occupancy rate compared to other buildings in the area. The average occupancy rate in Q3 was around 88% in the West Loop, according to Cushman & Wakefield market research. Tenants include the federal government, Akzo Nobel Inc., North American Co. for Life and Health Insurance and Amtrak, which all have leases expiring in 2011 through 2013. GE Employers Reinsurance Co. had been a major tenant in the building until early this year, when they vacated the fourth and fifth floors to move to 227 W. Adams, playing a large role in the property’s vacancy.

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