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American Express gets $63M for Plantation office

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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/10443878.htm

REAL ESTATE

American Express gets $63M for Plantation office complex

An Illinois real estate investment trust paid $63 million for American Express' Plantation office complex. The credit-card giant signed a lease to stay in the building for the next 10 years.

BY PATRICK DANNER

[email protected]

American Express on Thursday sold its Plantation office complex for $63 million in what's believed to be the largest office deal ever for the western Broward city.

Illinois-based Inland Western Retail Real Estate acquired the 376,348-square-foot complex at 777 American Express Way as part of a package of American Express buildings in five states. The combined purchase price for the properties is $300 million. Inland also has agreed to buy two other buildings from American Express for $90 million.

The Plantation office is home to American Express Travel Related Services, which handles customer service for its credit-card holders. American Express employs about 6,000 people in South Florida, but doesn't provide head counts for specific locations.

American Express inked a lease to remain in the Plantation complex for at least the next 10 years. The annual rent will be about $4.1 million, or just under $11 a square foot, excluding expenses.

Inland Western is one of three real estate investment trusts (REITs) affiliated with the Inland Real Estate Group of Companies. The REITs' combined portfolio is comprised of 700 properties totaling 80 million square feet in 41 states, said spokesman Rick Fox.

In Florida, the REITs own more than 80 properties totaling 8.7 million square feet, Fox added. The vast majority are retail.

The American Express complex in Plantation is Inland Western's second South Florida acquisition. It owns the 97,496-square-foot Bed, Bath & Beyond Plaza at Northwest 19th Street and 107th Avenue in Miami.

In 2002, Inland Retail Real Estate Trust acquired the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Facility in Dania Beach for $18.2 million. The REIT bought the Fountains of Plantation, a 408,807-square-foot shopping center, last year.

The purchase price for the American Express building in Plantation is about $167 a square foot. The total purchase price and the square-foot price are believed to be the highest ever recorded in Plantation.

The Boca Raton office of real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis lists the previous high as the former Kemper National Services buildings at 1601 SW 80th Terrace. New York-based iStar Financial paid $35 million, or $143 a square foot, for the buildings last year, CB said. Kemper is now known as Broadspire.

''The price is indicative of how strong the office market is in Plantation,'' said Stuart Downey, regional manager for Patrinely Group, which owns the Cornerstone Corporate Center. Vacancy rates for top tier office space are under 5 percent, he said.

Inland said it bought the American Express buildings because of their quality, location and guaranteed income stream.

Separately, American Express on Friday announced it will eliminate 2,000 jobs worldwide as part of a restructuring in its banking businesses. The restructuring won't affect South Florida operations, company spokeswoman Judy Tenzer said.

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