Frost tower illustrates "risky real estate" feature

Everywhere around town I’ve been seeing those signs touting “office space for lease” or “commercial property available.” They’re downtown and in obscure warehouse districts north, south, east, and west, more each day. A good-sized photograph of the Frost building (credit: Ben Sklar) is the eye-catcher illustrating “Risky Real Estate Deals Helped Doom Lehman” in today’s NYT (byline Terry Pristin). The photo caption reads, “In 2007, Lehman was part of a group that bought 10 office buildings, including the new Frost Bank Tower, in Austin, Tex.”

There’s quite a bit of attention paid to this particular deal. What I found most interesting among the details is that the ten Austin buildings that included the Frost tower are reported to have been purchased in 2007 for an average of $328 per square foot at a time when others were buying Austin office buildings for an average of $221 per square foot. A person from Real Cap[ital Analytics furnished that figure.

I follow the Austin Towers blog for information on the development (and sometimes, lately, the halt in development) of various large residential schemes around town. If there’s similar regular reporting about commercial real estate, I haven’t found it yet, but would like to, since there are more see-through structures out there with each passing day. The sporadic snippets from press releases that are to be found in the local daily and in the business tabloid don’t count.

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