Caleb S. Smith, president of the Dallas-based Spire, tellsGlobeSt.com that the best and final pitted JLL against Transwesternafter interviewing practically every major brokerage house in themetroplex. JLL's vice president Ted Headings caught the owner'sattention, but the firm's addition of managing directorsJon McNeil and MattCraft were the closers, according to Smith.

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Smith says the changing of the guard is just the beginning ofthis year's plans for his local real estate: the 1.1-million-sfBryan Tower at 2001 Bryan St. in the CBD; 449,251-sf MockingbirdTowers at 1341 W. Mockingbird Lane in the Stemmons Corridor; and250,963-sf Park Stemmons at 8700 N. Stemmons Freeway. Smithconfides he bought an 87,000-sf parking lot two days ago, pushinghis ground holdings to five acres behind the Plaza of the Americasand nearly seven acres in all in the CBD.

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Smith says the company, conceivably the owner of the largestblock of raw land in the Downtown, intends to keep the acreage forpublic parking for now although his team is fielding several callsper week from developers who want to buy or partner on building outthe dirt. "We are entertaining offers, but we're not activelymarketing it to sell," he says.

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What is more concrete is Spire's plan for Mockingbird Towers,12-story twins that it's owned since 1991. Smith says a leasingstrategy that began quietly last year has filled nearly 40,000 sfof the East Tower's space with medical office users. Now, he'staking the strategy public by ticketing the tower for medicaloffice use while keeping the West Tower for general officetenants.

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Mockingbird Towers are 60% leased. Smith says Headings'knowledge of the Stemmons submarket put JLL into the finals for theleasing contract. "His knowledge will be invaluable to use," Smithstresses. "We really see that as a medical corridor and we'retrying to stay ahead of the curve."

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Mockingbird Towers will be renovated, the extent of which hasyet to be determined. Smith says work will start in the summer.

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The four-story Park Stemmons, now 75% leased, has undergone $3.5million of upgrades in the past five years. The 82%-leased BryanTower is on the "to do" list, with plans calling for the additionof a "cool zone." Smith says the plan is to attach aclimate-controlled structure to the 40-story building's FederalStreet entrance, primarily aimed providing a comfortable placeother than the lobby for pedestrians waiting to catch a DARTlight-rail train.

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McNeil and Craft, former TCC executives, have been assigned toBryan Tower. "We're very excited to get Jon McNeil back on theproperty," Smith stresses, "and Matt, who we've dealt with before.He's always been a pleasure to deal with. Both have experience onboth sides of the fence so it will make our leasing more aggressiveand less adversarial."

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Smith says Bryan Tower, which has its own parking garage, wasthe reason that Spire started to buy the lots behind Plaza of theAmericas in 2001 to provide additional parking for tenants andvisitors. "Then, I realized it was developable land. I don't knowif I am going to keep it, develop it or sell it," he says.

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The newest lot in Spire's land bank was bought from Ross AvenueAssociates of Dallas. The five-acre, ell-shaped assemblyconstitutes a full city block with three hard corners and borderedby Hawkins Street on the east, Leonard Street on the west, SanJacinto St. on the south and Ross Avenue on the north. The fourthcorner holds a five-story building that SBC Communications uses asa switching site.

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