Carl Cronanis editor of RealEstate Florida.

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MIAMI-An Orlando-based law firm has opened its first Miamioffice in the 1221 Brickell building Downtown, while one of itsoriginal tenants may be moving to a newer structure a few blocksaway in the next couple of years.

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GrayRobinson has signed a long-term lease for 15,671 sf on the16th floor at 1221 Brickell, with an option to take up the entire16,500-sf floor in years to come. The firm currently has a 4,500-sftemporary office in the building, located between Brickell Avenueand Brickell Bay Drive.

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Carter W. Hopkins Jr., a CB Richard Ellis VP representingGrayRobinson in the lease negotiation, tells GlobeSt.com the firmhas sought to establish a presence in the Miami market afteropening an office in Fort Lauderdale two years ago. He says lawfirms make up a substantial percentage of the tenant base inDowntown Miami's Brickell office district, second only to financialservices companies.

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"The legal sector appears to be fairly healthy at this point,"Hopkins says, with law firms taking on most everything from realestate developments to loan workouts lately. "A good economy or abad economy is better than a stagnant economy."

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With 10 offices and at least 200 attorneys throughout Florida,GrayRobinson provides legal services to Fortune 500 companies,lending institutions, developers and local and state governments.The firm currently has 10 attorneys at its Miami office.

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GrayRobinson's lease required flexibilities allowing for futuregrowth while maintaining efficiency and cost-effectiveness, saysHopkins, who worked with CBRE associate Elizabeth McHugh in thenegotiations. Grant Killingsworth of Jones Lang LaSalle representedbuilding owner Blackstone/EOP.

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As GrayRobinson moves into its space at 1221 Brickell, anotherlaw firm whose name adorns the building may be on its way out.Greenberg Traurig, one of the original tenants when the 27-storystructure opened in 1986, has roughly two years remaining on itscurrent lease and is evaluating office space options in theDowntown Miami market, says Hopkins, who is representing thefirm.

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Greenberg Traurig is considering proposals from two nearbybuildings set to open in 2010 while negotiating a possible renewalof its current 160,000-sf space in 1221 Brickell, according toHopkins. Last week, the Daily Business Review, a publicationowned by ALM, parent organization of Real Estate Media, quotedanonymous sources as saying Greenberg Traurig has a "handshakedeal" to prelease 125,000 sf in the 47-story Met 2 office buildingunder construction on SE Second Avenue.

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Jack Lowell, managing director of Flagler Real EstateServices/ONCOR International who is handling leasing at Met 2,would not comment about a possible lease deal with GreenbergTraurig. A spokeswoman for the law firm also declined to discusscurrent negotiations.

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Even as Greenberg Traurig and other long-standing law firms inDowntown Miami weigh their options near the end of their leases,Hopkins emphasizes that it isn't a given they will automaticallyjump to new office space. Although moving into smaller space helpsoffset higher-priced rents, and landlords are willing to offerincentives and breaks below the $40-per-sf asking threshold, hesays the time and trouble of relocating must also be weighed.

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"Law firms generally are reluctant to move because it is acostly process," Hopkins says. "While there may be efficienciesgained, they don't want to wait five or ten years for thatpayback."

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