The top Tampa Bay commercial real estate sales of 2016 stand in stark contrast to those of the prior year, and reversed a trend toward investors buying downtown trophy properties.
Three of the top five deals involved 3 million square feet of multibuilding suburban office assets, acquired by Workspace Property Trust of Pennsylvania, Vision Properties of New Jersey and Citigroup Technology Inc. of New York.
In 2015, by contrast, three of the top five transactions involved downtown Tampa Class A skyscrapers like the Bank of America Plaza, the SunTrust Financial Centre and the Wells Fargo Center. Together, they totaled 1.7 million square feet.
Combined, the trio of suburban office deals in 2016 fetched $398 million, or $132.50 per square foot. Last year, the three downtown sales brought $395.5 million, or $232 per square foot.
At least some of the suburban product has potential for expansion. Vision Properties, for instance, is planning to break ground early in the new year on a new 111,000-square-foot office building at Renaissance Center, a five-building corporate campus in Tampa's Westshore business district.
1. Liberty Property Trust portfolio: $174 million
Workspace Property Trust acquired 34 office buildings totaling 1.8 million square feet from Liberty after the real estate investment trust felt Wall Street pressure to divest itself of office holdings and focus on industrial properties. In all, Workspace and partners Safanad and Square Mile Capital spent $969 million to buy 108 buildings from Liberty in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Arizona. In Florida, in addition to Tampa, Workspace bought assets in Sunrise, Boca Raton and Miramar.
2. Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa: $120.5 million
Houston-based Westmont Hospitality Group's purchase of the 242-room Hyatt Regency dovetails with a push to acquire luxury beachfront property in the Tampa area.
In 2015, a Hilton hotel on Clearwater Beach sold for $134 million. Westmont, one of the world's largest privately held hospitality companies, owns about 500 hotels in the U.S., Europe and Asia, according to its website.
3. 3800 Citibank Center: $116 million
Citigroup Technology Inc.'s deal for the six-building corporate campus that houses its global shared services operations center marked a return to the past for the financial behemoth. That's because Citigroup had developed the 672,000-square-foot center in the late 1990s, before selling it to an affiliate of Zurich Alternative Asset Management for $147 million. The series of two- and three-story buildings that comprise the Citibank center property sit on 92 acres in all.
4. Renaissance Center: $108 million
Vision Properties acquired the five-building, 71-acre Renaissance Center with the goal of taking advantage of shrinking vacancies through new development. The Mountain Lakes, N.J.-based company intends to break ground early next year on a new 111,600-square-foot building, adding about 20% more space to the 532,371-square-foot complex. Renaissance's existing space is fully committed to WellCare Health Plans Inc. and Capital One Financial, which built the complex near Tampa International Airport in 1997.
The complex maintains an impressive amenity package that includes a full-service cafeteria; a two-story fitness center; walking trails; basketball, racquetball and beach volleyball courts; baseball diamond; lighted tennis courts and 3,800 parking spaces in a pair of garages. In addition to Renaissance Center, Vision owns roughly 5 million square feet in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and East Rutherford, N.J., according to its website.
5. Amazon.com Ruskin fulfillment center: $103.6 million
Cole Office & Industrial REIT Inc., of Phoenix, set a record for a single industrial asset sale in the Tampa area when it acquired Amazon.com's 1.02 million-square-foot fulfillment center in southern Hillsborough County last summer. Cole Office bought the 3350 Laurel Ridge Road warehouse from USAA Real Estate Co., which developed the building in 2013. Cole Office has been centering its portfolio around e-commerce purveyors and logistics and delivery firms, documents show.
The Ruskin property is its first acquisition in Florida, according to a U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission filing in April. The REIT is affiliated with Cole Capital Corp. and Vereit Inc., which owns $16.8 billion worth of real estate in nearly 4,400 properties nationwide.