JACKSONVILLE, FL– Flagler recently closed a five-year leaserenewal with The Main Street America Group. The super regionalproperty/casualty insurance company will remain in its67,694-square-foot corporate headquarters within the Deerwood Northbusiness park at 4601 Touchton Road here.

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Ross Carrier, Flagler’s senior director of Leasing, representedFlagler in the transaction. Lou Nutter, senior vice presidentat CB Richard Ellis, represented Main Street America Group, whichrelocated to Jacksonville from Keen, NH in 2003.

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“Jacksonville is a strong business community and has providedour company with excellent opportunities for profitable growth,”says Tom Van Berkel, Main Street America’s Chairman, president andCEO. “Our move to Jacksonville has been the springboard for ourgeographic diversification, as we have entered nine new states inthe past few years and significantly increased our marketshare.”

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One of Flagler’s largest office parks in Jacksonville, DeerwoodNorth is located in the city’s growing central business corridorand offers four Class-A office buildings totaling nearly 500,000rentable square feet. Arizona Chemical Company, FidelityInvestments, Carolina Casualty Insurance and IBM Corporation callthe business park home.

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“Most of the leasing activity in the Jacksonville market rightnow is from renewal activity and tenants that are taking theopportunity to shop the market,” Karl Hanson, Flagler vicepresident market officer for North Florida, tells GlobeSt.com.

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This is Flagler’s second win for the Deerwood project in as manymonths. In July, Zurich.-based Adecco Group decided to leave theModis Building in downtown Jacksonville to take up residence atDeerwood South in the spring of 2011. The recruitment and workforcesolutions company signed a 78,292-square foot lease at DeerwoodSouth.

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Nutter declined to comment on the Main Street America deal, butJim Sebesta, vice president at Phoenix Realty Group inJacksonville, tells GlobeSt.com that the office market is startingto rebound in Jacksonville. The total vacancy rate held steady at23% in the second quarter, according to CB Richard Ellis. Thesecond quarter closed with positive absorption of 31,274 squarefeet. Lease rates for Class A office space averaged $20.28 persquare foot.

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“A lot of our office market was tied directly to the residentialmortgage business,” Sebesta says. “When that collapsed, we saw alot of downsizing and a lot of space hit our market. We got hurt alittle worse than some cities. Now, we’re bouncing back.”

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Sebesta points to Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial ServicesGroup’s decision to open a 60,000 square foot office on theSouthside of Jacksonville, along with the Main Street America deal,as signs of life in Jacksonville’s financial services industry.

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“With backroom operations for Chase, Washington Mutual andCitigroup here, we saw a lot of financial services professionalslaid off,” Sebesta said. “Now, we have the space availability andthe labor pool to attract companies looking for good deals.”

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