Liberty Center complex Downtown sold by Forest City for $135M

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 11:39 a.m.

Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich, Conn., has bought Liberty Center, Downtown, for $135 million.

Forest City Enterprises Inc. and its partner, Jos. L. Muscarelle Inc., sold the 27-story office building, an asset “situated in a market that has increasingly attractive fundamentals,” said Starwood Vice President Jeff Shuster.

The sale follows Forest City's recent sale of the Sheraton Station Square hotel. It will generate cash for Forest City of about $30 million after it pays off a mortgage and other expenses.

The $61 million sale of the 399-room Sheraton Station Square hotel last month to a group led by Pyramid Hotel Group netted Forest City $7.75 million. Pyramid plans to renovate the South Side hotel.

The 616-room Westin Convention Center hotel, located within Liberty Center, will continue to operate as a Westin under a long-term management agreement with Starwood Hotels, which manages the hotel and is not affiliated with Starwood Capital.

Liberty Center includes the Federated Investors office tower, with Federated Investors as a major tenant, and a retail shopping arcade and underground parking. The Westin connects to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center via an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Penn Avenue.

Forest City has taken Station Square off the market, but company officials have said they would consider offers.

The Liberty Center sale “continues our strategic effort to exit non-core products and markets, and to use proceeds from dispositions to improve our balance sheet and invest in our mature portfolio and development opportunities,” said David J. LaRue, Forest City president and CEO.

The Westin Convention Center hotel was the last in its portfolio and marks the company's exit from the business, he said.

Forest City recently completed a swap with Zamagias Properties of Pittsburgh for full ownership of The Mall at Robinson. It acquired 28 percent ownership of Zamagias and, in turn, sold its 50 percent ownership of the Plaza at Robinson Town Centre to Zamagias, netting $18.5 million in the deal.

Sam Spatter is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7843 or sspatter@tribweb.com.

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