By Gail Kalinoski
Philadelphia—For the second time in less than a year, Workspace Property Trust has made a major deal with Liberty Property Trust, acquiring 108 office and flex buildings in four states for approximately $969 million, in a strategic relationship with global investment firm Safanad.
Once the deal closes in the third quarter, WPT’s total portfolio will total approximately 9.9 million square feet across 149 properties in five markets. This latest deal follows the December 2015 deal in which WPT acquired 41 properties in Horsham, Pa., from Liberty as its first transaction as a CRE firm. WPT is a privately held, vertically integrated company specializing in the development, management and operation of office and flex space in the Northeast, set up as a partnership among Rizk Ventures, Forum Partners, JMP Group and EverWatch Capital. It is run by industry veterans Thomas Rizk and Roger Thomas.
“We are excited about entering into this new relationship with Safanad and this acquisition represents the next step in our strategic plan to build a portfolio of high quality, well-positioned suburban real estate assets,” Rizk, CEO & a founding principal of Horsham-based WPT, said in a prepared statement.
Kamal Bahamdan, CEO & founder of Safanad, said in a statement that his firm was attracted to the highly experienced team running WPT and its strategy.
“At Safanad, we align ourselves with experienced industry partners through carefully selected investments,” Bahamadan said. “We are looking forward to working with Tom, Roger and the rest of the Workspace team who have extensive experience and a distinguished track record of creating value in suburban office markets. We have worked with them and known them for over 20 years and this experience gives us great confidence in the future of this platform.”
The portfolio consists of the following: 14 buildings, 1.1 million square feet and 18.1 acres in Arizona; 11 buildings, 1.1 million square feet and 8.6 acres in South Florida; 34 buildings and 1.8 million square feet in the Tampa, Fla., area; 19 buildings, 1.5 million square feet in Minnesota; and 30 buildings and 2.1 million square feet in Pennsylvania.
Liberty said the buildings in Arizona and South Florida were all offices and a combination of industrial/flex and office space in Tampa and Minnesota. The Pennsylvania portion of the deal consisted of 406,678 square feet of industrial/distribution space; 438,243 square feet of industrial/flex space and 1.2 million square feet of office space.
The Malverne, Pa.-based firm said the disposition is consistent with its plan to sell about $1 billion of non-core suburban properties this year. Last year, Liberty sold off more than $500 million in non-core assets. The company, which currently has a 104 million-square-foot portfolio with 684 office and industrial properties in the U.S. and the U.K., is focusing on industrial properties and owning and developing assets in urban areas like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Last year, Liberty unveiled plans for a $1 billion complex for 16 acres along the Camden, N.J., waterfront on the Delaware River. The 1.7 million-square-foot project is expected to include office space, housing, retail and a hotel.
In Pennsylvania, Liberty is selling off most of its suburban Philadelphia holdings. The sale to WPT includes the majority of the properties within the Great Valley Corporate Center in Malverne, except for its headquarters and buildings it leases to Vanguard Group, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A spokesperson also told the newspaper that Liberty is keeping about 280,000 square feet at Great Valley that it plans to redevelop.
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