"We would like to own more in Philadelphia. And we will, in the next 12 months," Doug Fleit, chief executive officer of Herndon, Va.-based American Real Estate Partners, tells me.
Fleit's firm and partner Independencia Asset Management today said they've spent $90 million to buy 1100, 1150 and 1200 Merrill Lynch Drive, three of the 12 buildings on the Merrill Lynch office campus that Bank of America Corp. sold to Fortress Investment Group and its partner Sansome Pacific Properties last fall for a reputed $375 million. BofA has been reducing employment at the center, which once employed 6,500, plus room to grow, on 700 acres in Hopewell Township outside Trenton. Merrill Lynch will stay in AmRe's three buildings, Fleit says.
AmRe last high-profile Philly investment was the conversion of part of Two Liberty Place's vacant office space into condos and the R2L restaurant. But Fleit told me he's looking at Center City's lately ho-hum office market, not its red-hot apartment market, for his next Philly deal. "We like Philadelphia's market dynamics," Fleit says. "There are nice assets there."
In other Center City office news, FMC spokesman James Fitzwater says his company isn't planning to announce a new headquarters before September's over, after all. "We'll keep you posted," he told me.
Real estate sources say FMC Corp. was negotiating a major tenancy in a proposed high-rise west of Comcast headquarters, but Liberty Property Trust, which is also Comcast's landlord, pulled the plug on that deal. Liberty says that rumor is false.