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Iconic Miami Tower sold for $220 million

The Miami Tower (known originally as the CenTrust Tower) was designed by architect I.M. Pei, known to many as the last master of high modernist architecture. The building was built in 1987 in downtown Miami.
The Miami Tower (known originally as the CenTrust Tower) was designed by architect I.M. Pei, known to many as the last master of high modernist architecture. The building was built in 1987 in downtown Miami. Pedro Portal

The iconic Miami Tower, whose changing lights have dominated the downtown skyline for nearly three decades, has been sold for $220 million to a Japanese firm — more than double what it brought at its previous sale in 2010.

Sumitomo Corporation of America, part of the Japan-based conglomerate, purchased the 47-story tower in Miami’s central business district, according to a release by Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP, the company that brokered the deal. The sale was first reported by The Real Deal.

“We are excited to add Miami Tower to our portfolio of commercial properties here in the U.S.,” Robert Obringer, vice president of Sumitomo, said in a press release. “As part of our constant management of assets, we are always looking for opportunities that will maximize return on investment, and this property offers a strong upside potential for in-place cash flow and the opportunity to increase value.”

Previously, Sumitomo owned the Miami Center adjacent to the InterContinental Hotel, purchasing the building in 2008 for $260 million. It sold that property to Crocker Partners for $262 million in 2012.

Howard Taft, managing director with Miami real-estate investment firm Aztec Group, called the sale “a significant transaction.”

The previous sale was $105.5 million to an affiliate of Jones Lang LaSalle. That the priced doubled in less than a decade shows that the appetite for existing office space by investors “is driving property values to record levels,” Taft said. In 2003, the building was purchased in 2003 for $85 million by Blue Capital.

“I think we are going to see a lot more of this,” he said.

Jim Shindell, the chairman of the real-estate department at Bilzin Sumberg, agreed. Increased land prices have made existing buildings more attractive as developing new buildings has become more expensive.

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, the 600,000-square-foot office building opened in 1987 as the CenTrust Tower during the go-go era of the 1980s financial boom. Under the direction of CenTrust chairman David Paul, the penthouse offices were decorated with gold-plated faucets in the washrooms, marble walls and a luxe theater for executives. The bank was collapsed during the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1990s.

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