- Steve Brown, Dallas Morning News

Crescent Real Estate paid close to $700 million for the landmark office and retail buildings.

 

The just-completed sale of Uptown’s landmark Crescent complex is one of the largest commercial property transactions ever in the Dallas area.

A partnership created by Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate paid upward of $700 million to buy the iconic office and retail buildings just north of downtown Dallas.

Designed by famed architect Philip Johnson and built in the 1980s, the Crescent anchors the booming Uptown Dallas district with some of the highest office rents in the state.

The purchase marks the third time since the 1990s that Crescent Real Estate has owned its namesake property.

“We’ve been working on the purchase for months,” said Crescent chairman John Goff. “Given our knowledge of the asset and managing and leasing it for so long, we know it as well as anybody on the planet.

“We didn’t need to do a lot of work to understand the asset.”

Crescent Real Estate just completed a more than $30 million redo of the property, which opened in 1986. Goff’s firm already owns the property’s Crescent Court Hotel, which also recently had $35 million in upgrades.

The purchase, which closed Tuesday, included the three Crescent office towers with more than 1 million square feet and the adjoining retail building.

The buildings were put up for sale last summer with commercial property firm JLL marketing the property for JP Morgan Asset Management, which had owned the Crescent for more than a decade.

Goff said his firm is already working on plans for further upgrades to the Crescent.

“We have a lot of additional improvements we have in the works that hopefully we will unveil in the not-too-distant future,” he said. “We want to keep the asset fresh and new.

“I think the Crescent is as relevant and iconic today as it ever has been.”

Goff said his firm first acquired ownership of the Crescent almost 30 years ago.

“It was part of our initial public offering in 1994,” he said. After a later sale, “we bought it again in 2009 in partnership with Barclays when I bought the whole company back.”

The Crescent cost an estimated $550 million to develop in the 1980s — at the time the most ever spent on a Dallas real estate project.

“It would easily be north of $1 billion today to build it,” Goff said.

Crescent Real Estate made the acquisition for one of its funds, which pools money from investors.

“We found there was a lot of appetite to buy into an asset like this,” Goff said. “We ended up with more equity at the table than we had room for.

“We had a lot of local interests reach out to us asking if there was any way they could invest because they love the asset and know how dominant it is in the market.”

He said some of the investors included tenants in the Crescent, and all of the money came from domestic sources.

The Crescent sale fetched one of the highest prices ever paid for a Dallas-area commercial property.

Uptown Dallas’ Union office and retail complex sold early last year for $370 million.

North Texas’ recent record sales price was the more than $800 million purchase of State Farm Insurance’s four-tower Richardson office campus in 2016.

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