Commercial real estate had another sterling year, with US$700B in transaction volumes and high demand in prime markets internationally, as well as in some secondary markets and areas such as logistics. As an asset class, real estate is now fully globalized, drawing institutional monies into funds and directly into construction and ownership. The mergers of some of the world's largest commercial real estate services firms can be seen as part of this market shift. Demand for REITs is expected to grow this year as MSCI and S&P Dow Jones indexes create a separate real estate sector. However, recent slowing in some markets may signal that investors are pausing to assess the broader impact of tepid global growth.
We advised Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China on its joint venture with Blumberg Investment Partners to invest in long-term, high-quality net-leased assets across the U.S. The joint venture will invest in a portfolio of Class A, "last-mile" strategic distribution facilities, valued at US$600M. They have also identified US$400M of strategically located, build-to-suit properties for potential investment. This deal marks Ping An's entry into the U.S. logistics real estate market, and is the first significant Chinese-led outbound investment in the Western logistics sector.
We represented Evergrande Real Estate Group Limited in its acquisition of investment holding company Pioneer Time Investment Limited. Evergrande is China's second largest property developer by sales. Through the US$1.6B deal, Evergrande gains ownership of Pioneer's Grade A office and commercial building located in Hong Kong's business district.
The firm advised a joint venture between two private equity real estate fund managers, UK-based Benson Elliot and U.S.-based Walton Street Capital, in partnership with Algonquin, on the acquisition of a pan-European hotel portfolio. Valued at €420M, the portfolio includes eight prime hotels located in Brussels, Milan, Nuremberg, Paris, Rome, Venice, and Warsaw.
We advised Ivanhoe Cambridge on a deal to purchase the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village apartment complex in New York City from owners managed by CWCapital Asset Management LLC. A joint venture between The Blackstone Group LP, through its Blackstone Property Partners fund, and Ivanhoe Cambridge agreed to purchase the property, which has been managed by CWCapital since the prior owner defaulted on US$3B of mortgage indebtedness in 2010. The largest apartment complex in Manhattan, Stuyvesant Town includes 110 buildings and houses more than 30,000 residents.
We continued to strengthen our longstanding partnership with Starwood Capital, advising the leading investment firm on significant financings and acquisitions in the U.S. and Europe.
Most notably, we advised Starwood on financing its acquisition of a portfolio of over 23,000 apartments in 72 communities across the U.S. Valued at more than US$5.3B, the transaction is Starwood's largest-ever non-hotel purchase. We also advised Starwood on the acquisition and financing of Tower Place, an office and retail property in Atlanta.
In addition, we represented our client in the US$500M refinancing of its portfolio of InTown Suites hotels located across the U.S. We also advised Starwood on the acquisition and financing of 50 additional extended-stay properties. Following this deal, InTown Suites became the largest owner of economy extended-stay hotels in the U.S.
Turning to Europe, our London team worked closely with Starwood on a number of high-profile deals, including the acquisition of four extended-stay "apart-hotels," as well as a residential complex in London that features luxury apartments as well as multiple retail units, offices, and restaurants. We also advised our client on the acquisition, joint venture, and management-back arrangements with the Melia Hotel Group for six hotels in Spain.
Other highlights of our work include advising Starwood on its sale of the Ace Hotel in London, its acquisition of the Martins Building, a grade 1 listed office building in Liverpool which will be redeveloped into the city's first five-star hotel; and the proposed disposal of a portfolio of 18 assets in the UK.