By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor
Newton, Mass.-based CommonWealth has turned its attention to New Orleans, making its first acquisition in the area. The real estate investment trust, which primarily focuses on office and industrial properties in major metropolitan markets, purchased One Shell Square, the tallest building in both the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, for a reported $102 million, or $81.60 per square foot, from longtime owner Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. MetLife completed a $40 million renovation prior to the sale, bringing occupancy to approximately 90 percent.
“We try to purchase what we think is one of the best assets in the market, and then we hope to add through additional acquisitions over time,” vice president of investor relations at CommonWealth Timothy Bonang told the Times-Picayune. “What we really look for are high-quality assets, high credit-quality tenants and long-term leases.”
The 51-story, 697-foot-tall building clad with Italian limestone and bronze glass was built in 1972 as the first skyscraper on Poydras Street and retained the designation as the tallest building in the Southeastern United States until the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta surpassed it in 1976. The One Shell Square Emergency Heliport is located on the roof of the tower. It is named after Shell Oil Co., the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which is also the major tenant of the building.
While the office rental market in New Orleans is booming, the retail sector is right on its tail, as demand is continuously growing. Lauricella Land Co., the owner of the Elmwood Shopping Center, plans to kick off construction of a 66,000-square-foot expansion of its mall on South Clearview Parkway to include 15 retail units, according to a Times-Picayune story.
Photo courtesy of Infrogmation of New Orleans, via Wikimedia Commons