Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. will build a 570,000-sf office tower in downtown Houston, only a few blocks from the new Enron Field professional baseball stadium.

The project will be anchored by Ernst & Young, which has signed a 10-year lease for 127,000 sf. The 27-story tower, to be called Five Houston Center, will be ready for occupancy in the fall 2002. The project will be situated at the corner of McKinney and LaBranch streets – on a full block Crescent recently purchased from a partnership led by PAC Trust. The new tower will be part of Crescent’s Houston Center mixed-use project, which includes 3 million sf of office space, Park Shops retail center and a 400-room Four Seasons hotel.

Houston Center’s office space is 98% leased. Ernst & Young currently is a major tenant in the One Houston Center building. It will vacate that space and move to the new tower. The new building will be loaded with technology capabilities and new features, such as two telecommunications rooms per floor, full wiring for broadband and ready access to excess electrical power.

“Our ‘Workplace of the Future’ model employs a heavy investment in technology to create a more ideal and flexible work environment for employees,” says Carlton E. Baucum, managing partner of Ernst & Young’s Houston office. Ernst & Young has been represented by Trammell Crow in the leasing negotiations.

The building will have a parking ratio of 2.2 vehicles per 1,000 sf of office space. The structure’s design has 19 floors of office space and eight parking levels. The office market in downtown Houston is tight with class A occupancy at 98%.

Other downtown office buildings are proposed by Hines Interests, Trammell Crow Co. and Century Development Co. Only one major tower, however, is currently under construction in downtown Houston, the 40-story, 1.2 million-sf Enron Tower, scheduled for completion next year. Crescent’s new building will be located only a few blocks from where Hines is developing a 1,200-room convention hotel for the city.

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