Pebb Enterprises and Banyan Development picked up Florida Atlantic University’s tech and innovation-focused Research Park in Boca Raton for $37.5 million.
The joint venture bought the seven-building office portfolio at 3600-3998 FAU Boulevard, although the deal was for the long-term ground leasehold interest, according to the buyers’ news release. This means Pebb and Banyan bought the buildings but not the land, which they now lease from FAU’s governing authority, the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority.
The buildings’ seller is international sovereign wealth fund Boca R&D Finance, according to the release. State corporate records show it ties to New York-based Global Securitization Services, which specializes in owning and administering special purpose entities that focus on structured finance deals on behalf of banks, insurers, private equity funds and investment funds.
Keith O’Donnell of Avison Young represented Boca R&D in the off-market deal.
The 308,305-square-foot office portfolio was constructed in 1998 and 2001, according to the release. Research Park is 65 percent leased, mainly to medical, tech and other research businesses.
Tenants include American Sugar Refining, Xeriant, Baptist Health Surgery Center, FAU College of Medicine Clinical Skills Simulation Center, Institute of Regenerative Medicine, Sandow Media, GenesisCare and 4ocean, the release says.
Pebb and Banyan aim to launch a leasing campaign focused on making Research Park a premier university-affiliated health care, medical and biotech advanced engineering hub, according to the release. Potential tenants would be focused on the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors and machine learning, which is a form of artificial intelligence.
Greg Martin will lead the Avison Young team leasing the property.
Research Park, led by President Andrew Duffell, is the only university-affiliated research center in South Florida, the release states.
Pebb and Banyan, both based in Boca Raton, have partnered on other projects. The duo is developing the 16-acre Mainstreet at Boynton mixed-use project on the northeast corner of Boynton Beach Boulevard and Jog Road. The project will include a 117,000-square-foot congregate living facility with 130 units, and almost 70,000 square feet of commercial space, with parts of the retail completed.
Pebb, led by CEO Ian Weiner, is a family owned real estate investment firm founded in 1973, according to its website.
In other South Florida investments, Pebb paid $18.4 million last year for the three-story 1801 Building at 1801 North Military Trail in Boca Raton.
Development firm Banyan is led by Principal Jason Sher.
The Palm Beach County office market showed signs of improvement in the first quarter, with a 9.6 percent vacancy rate, compared to 11.6 percent during the same time period last year, according to Colliers. Asking rent hit $37.59 per square foot, up from $35.85 in the first quarter of last year. Roughly 702,000 square feet of office space is under construction.
In Boca Raton, a joint venture of Butters Group and Konsker Development is seeking to build the five-story Midtown Place at Boca Raton with 120,000 square feet of offices.