Energy Transfer buys downtown Houston office building

Dallas-based pipeline and midstream firm Energy Transfer Partners has purchased a 21-story Houston office tower, but the company says it isn’t moving its headquarters south.

The company purchased the 575,000 square foot building at 1300 Main (aka The Travis Tower) in August with plans to renovate it and move in many of the 650 existing Houston-area workers in late 2012. Initially the company will take up about 150,000 square feet.

According to Harris County Appraisal District records the building is worth about $36.9 million.

ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado said the company’s home office will remain in Dallas, and that it’s not unusual for ETP to own buildings where it has large numbers of workers — including the headquarters near downtown Dallas and offices in San Antonio.

ETP has been embroiled in a fierce battle to purchase Houston-based Southern Union Gas. The company swapped successively higher bids for SUG with rival Williams Co., which most recently tried unsuccessfully to buy a handful of SUG assets.

If ETP’s acquisition of SUG goes through it’s possible many of the approximately 600 SUG employees who office in a building at 5051 Westheimer could be moved to the downtown offices.

In May ETP and Regency Partners paid $1.9 billion for the former Louis Dreyfus midstream business. Earlier this month ETP sold its propane business to Amerigas Partners for $2.9 billion.