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BIRMINGHAM, AL-Citing a desire to simplify its business and eliminating debt maturity expense, Colonial Properties Trust has disposed of its 15% ownership interest in a 17-asset office joint venture with DRA Advisors LLC. A press release detailing the transaction noted that the disposition also includes a $131 million acquisition of one of the portfolio’s properties, the 813,000-square-foot Three Ravinia office building.

The press release explained that the overall disposition means Colonial Properties is released from a little more than $141 million of mortgage debt, of which $117.8 million was scheduled to mature in 2010, and $7 million matured in 2009. As part of the transaction, the existing $106 million indebtedness on the class A Three Ravinia, located in the 42-acre Ravinia Office Park at Three Ravinia Drive, was repaid.

Meanwhile, Colonial Properties will continue managing the remaining assets in the joint venture. GlobeSt.com reported in 2007, when the joint venture was formed, that the portfolio consisted of 26 office properties and 11 retail assets in the Southeast and Houston. At the time, the REIT’s senior vice president Jerry A. Brewer said Colonial Properties was disposing of office and retail assets, while retaining multifamily properties.

Colonial Properties has made no secret of its attempts to shed product with maturing debt and to exit joint ventures that were not part of the REIT’s core competencies, which are focused on multifamily ownership. “This transaction is a major step in the ongoing simplification of our business,” stated Thomas H. Lowder, the Company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in a prepared statement. “We were able to exit another joint venture on favorable terms, eliminate $124.8 million of near term debt maturities, and acquire 100% ownership of an iconic Atlanta office property.”

Three Ravina was completed in 1991. In addition to office space, there is an 8,600-square-foot retail component. The 31-story trophy asset is managed by Hines Interests.

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