tampabay.com

Price rockets up for office park

Renaissance Park sells for $104-million, after being bought for $69-million last year . It s hows how hot the market is.

By JAMES THORNER
Published October 20, 2006


TAMPA - Think the housing market's posted lucrative results the past few years? Top-notch office parks are doing their best to roll out big returns as well.

The latest example came Wednesday.

America's Capital Partners sold its Renaissance Park near Tampa's Veteran's Expressway for $104-million. The company had acquired what had been the former 71-acre campus of Capital One Financial Corp. just last year for $69-million.

What a difference a year and a half makes. In selling this week, the company made about $35-million, a return of 50 percent.

"They're a short term holder, and that's the market price," said Bob Goldschmidt, senior vice president with Liberty Property Trust, which bought Renaissance this week.

It wasn't so long ago that Renaissance Park was facing the dark ages, despite its proximity to Tampa International Airport on Henderson Road.

The five-building complex encompassing 530,000 square feet was custom-built in the late 1990s as a credit card call center for Capital One.

Capital One shut down the 1,100-employee operation in 2004, leaving the park roughly half empty by the time America's Capital bought the place last year.

Since then, new tenants have arrived, and old tenants have expanded. The park is now 97 percent leased. WellCare Health Plans Inc. is the biggest tenant, but significant space is taken by engineering firm Wade Trim, CEMEX and Capital One's auto finance division.

The purchase pushes Liberty Property Trust into the top tier of office park owners in the Tampa Bay area. It paid $196 per square foot for Renaissance Park, near the going rate for well-appointed Class A office property near the airport.

What's driving high sales prices is a shortage of top quality offices in and around Tampa's Westshore business district. The vacancy rate there is about 7 percent and tightening, according to real estate company Colliers Arnold. Rents on some of the newest buildings have crossed $30 per square foot.

Liberty, a Malvern, Pa.-based company whose flagship property is Tampa's Woodland Corporate Center, now owns close to 2.8-million square feet in the region.

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or 813 226-3313.