The search will probe all options: staying put, existing highrises and to-be-built towers. The constants are location--Downtownor Uptown--and space efficiency for the 293-member team, boasting140 attorneys, in Dallas, one of seven offices in the state. The198,000-sf office in Renaissance Tower at 1201 Elm St. spans floors45, 46, 53, 54, 55 and 56, the class A building's penthouse. Thecurrent 10-year lease expires in 2012.

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Leading the search is the CB Richard Ellis team of executivevice president Phil Puckett, senior vice president Chris Hermann,senior associate Michelle Donaldson and sales assistant HarlanDavis. The team was up against Cushman & Wakefield of TexasInc. and Jones Lang LaSalle in the best and final.

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Puckett tells GlobeSt.com that space and market analyses will bedone in few weeks, allowing the RFP to go out the door and set thestage for a best and final by mid-2009 "at the latest." To plantthe firm in a new building, he says the deal must get into themarket. "2012 is driving our schedule," he emphasizes. "For a newbuilding, that's right on target. The timeline we're on is veryimportant if we're going to look at new buildings."

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In most cases, occupants of older spaces can glean 10% to 20%efficiencies when planning starts, according to Puckett. Given therental rate difference in the past decade, right sizing cantranslate to considerable savings. "If you can right size and getefficiencies, it can offset a high rental rate cost," Puckett says."That's what we're seeing in the law firm moves to Uptown. They'reshedding a lot of space."

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Puckett says it's important to move quickly so Winstead hasplenty of choices, particularly if it wants new space. He estimatesthat Uptown's 1.9 million sf of under-construction office buildingsalready are 63% preleased.

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Winstead is one of the largest law firms in Texas, with 300attorneys and a 330-member support staff statewide. Image, employeeretention and bottom-line savings are underwriting the shoppingorders in Dallas, according to a CBRE press release about itsnewest client.

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The battle to keep the Dallas office is sure to get dicey as itsbuilding owner, New York City-based Moinian Group, dons boxinggloves to duke it out to hang onto the powerhouse tenant. "Themarket will be very aggressive. The market talks so everyone isaware of this coming up," Puckett says, hinting that there'salready been knocks on his door. "It's going to be front and centerand we're proud to be part of it."

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