N.Y. developer buys 3 buildings in Bethesda


In what is probably Maryland's biggest real estate transaction in several years, a New York developer has purchased three large office buildings in Bethesda that are fully leased by IBM Corp., the parties announced yesterday.

No price was disclosed for the sale of the 824,000-square-foot complex in the Rock Springs section of Bethesda, a prime office park that is also home to the world headquarters of Marriott International Inc. and Host Marriott Corp. The buyer was a group led by New York developer Gerald Hines.

The sellers were different partnerships, all led by Park Tower Realty Corp. of Manhattan.

The three buildings are at 6700 Rockledge Drive, 6710 Rockledge Drive and 10401 Fernwood Road, according to a statement announcing the deal. It said the agreement calls for an outright sale of the Fernwood Road building and the sale of partnership interests in the other two buildings, as well as in a 40-acre parcel on which they sit. Montgomery County has approved construction of an additional 750,000 square feet of new office and retail space at the site.

Montgomery County tax records show that the three buildings and the land involved in the deal are assessed at a total of $137 million. By contrast, Baltimore's biggest office deal of 1993 was the State of Maryland's $12.2 million purchase of the 6 St. Paul Centre office tower, which has 305,000 square feet of space.

But a Baltimore real estate appraiser who has worked often in suburban Washington said there's no real way to know the purchase price in the Montgomery deal.

"You don't know the influence of the contract rents," said M. Ronald Lipman, a principal at Lipman, Frizzell and Mitchell of Lutherville. The price could be pushed up or down from the assessed values if IBM has a deal under which rents vary from the market norm of $21 to $23 a square foot, he said.

A spokeswoman for Sonneblick-Goldman Co., a New York real estate broker that helped to arrange the deal, said the parties would have no comment.

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