Virtus Buys Houston-Area MOB

The firm’s second acquisition in the market is a 90,014-square-foot property in Sugar Land.

Sugar Creek Health Center

Sugar Creek Health Center, a three-building, 90,014-square-foot medical office property in Houston’s suburb of Sugar Land, has changed ownership. Public records show Virtus Real Estate Capital acquired the asset through its third fund, financing the purchase with a $19.3 million loan from CIT Bank, due to mature in 2026.

According to CommercialEdge data, the previous owner was Norvin Healthcare Properties, which had acquired the property in 2017. CBRE U.S. Healthcare and Life Sciences represented Norvin in the disposition.

Situated on more than 6 acres at 14815-14897 Southwest Freeway, Sugar Creek Health Center consists of three one-story buildings completed in 1985. The medical office asset underwent exterior renovations in 2017, including new signage, new roofs and LED lighting, among others.

According to CBRE, the property was 93 percent leased at the time of sale to a complementary mix of medical tenants. The roster includes Memorial Hermann Health System, the University of Texas Medical Branch, Tenet Healthcare’s BHS Physicians Network Healthcare and OakBend Medical Center.

Sugar Creek Health Center is 3 miles northeast of downtown Sugar Land and 20 miles southwest of downtown Houston, adjacent to Interstate 69. The immediate area also includes several health-care providers, such as Sugar Land Medical Center and CHI St. Luke’s Health Hospital.

The CBRE team assisting the seller included Chris Bodnar, Lee Asher, Ryan Lindsley, Jordan Selbiger and Brandy Bellow Spinks.

Portfolios grow, portfolios shrink

The buy marks Virtus’ second acquisition in the market. The first closed in 2018, when the firm acquired two distressed medical properties totaling 93,354 square feet in Webster, another Houston suburb. Virtus’ national portfolio also focuses on self storage, charter schools, student housing, senior housing and workforce housing.

Following the Sugar Creek sale, two medical office properties remain part of Norvin’s Greater Houston portfolio, CommercialEdge shows. One is an asset acquired in 2002, an 80,098-square-foot building located in Houston’s Medical Center submarket. The second, and the most recent addition, is a 505,000-square-foot campus in Bellaire, Texas, purchased in 2018.

Houston’s medical office market

The metro’s medical office market outperformed the wider office sector throughout 2020, according to a recent Colliers report. Although vacancy rates saw a slight increase from 15.2 percent at the end of 2019 to 16.0 percent at the end of 2020, the average asking rate closed last year at $25.85 per square foot, virtually flat over 12 months.

Meanwhile, pricing and cap rates remained relatively similar to pre-COVID-19 levels. While cap rates averaged about 6.6-6.7 percent nationally for both general and medical office, Houston’s average for medical office properties decreased each quarter of last year, starting at 6.19 percent and finishing the year at 5.55 percent, the same Colliers reports shows. 

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