The Brookdale Group, an Atlanta-based commercial real estate investment group, is under contract to buy the 777 Main office tower in downtown Fort Worth from Cousins Properties.
Cousins, an Atlanta-based real estate investment trust, said last week that it is selling the 40-story office tower, but did not reveal the buyer, citing a confidentiality agreement.
The Brookdale Group, which is privately held, was disclosed as the buyer in a lawsuit filed Monday in state court in Tarrant County by Petroleum Exploration Co., a building tenant suing Cousins for breach of contract and fraud for not completing promised renovations to its 27th floor space.
Petroleum Exploration, which does business as Petex, wants a judge to stop the planned building sale, now scheduled for Dec. 30, and be released from a lease extension it signed when the building was owned by Crescent Real Estate Equities, the lawsuit said. The company is also seeking up to $1 million in monetary relief.
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Marli Quesinberry, a Cousins spokeswoman, said Wednesday she could not comment on the lawsuit.
A message left with the Brookdale Group was not answered. The 20-year-old company has invested $1.4 billion in 60 office properties, according to its website.
Petex, based in Breckenridge, west of Mineral Wells, moved into the building in December 2013. Crescent sold the building to Cousins in September 2013.
Petex is a privately-held company that focuses on acquisition, drilling and operation of oil and gas properties nationwide. It signed a lease with Crescent in January 2011 and took over 11,060 square feet formerly leased by Jacobs Engineering. Jacobs had until Dec. 31, 2013 to consolidate its offices to the 24th, 25th and 26th floors. At one time, the firm had leased more than 300,000 square feet on several floors in the building.
Initially, Petex’s lease was to expire Dec. 31, 2015. But in May 2013, before it moved in, Petex extended the lease to Dec. 31, 2018, but was promised renovations to its space that were to have been completed by the time the company moved in, in December of that year.
Petex “didn’t know when it signed the lease that Crescent was selling,” the lawsuit says. Cousins failed to meet the deadline and the “renovations are still incomplete,” the suit says. “Petex has suffered a number of unacceptable conditions as the result of Cousins’ mismanagement of the building as landlord.”
Among them, the lawsuit states, Cousins has failed to address electrical and plumbing issues including “raw sewage bubbling up into the ladies’ room and kitchen sink and remaining there.” The problems have dragged on for so long that Petroleum Exploration employees “have had to go in search of accessible restrooms in other parts of the building,” the suit says.
Petex said it has attempted to work with Cousins and the new buyer but “the parties have been unable to reach agreement.”
Built in 1982 by Woodbine Development Corp., the building opened as Continental Plaza and became UPR Plaza in 1998. The building was renamed Carter Burgess Plaza in 2000 and then 777 Main in April 2012.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727