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One of the city’s major law firms, saying it couldn’t find sufficient office space downtown, is moving to northwest Austin.

Vinson & Elkins LLP, one of the oldest and largest law firms in the United States, has leased approximately 135,000 sf of office space at the proposed Terrace Building 7 on Via Fortuna Rd., officials told GlobeSt. com.V&E, which is anticipating a move in May 2002, will take about four floors of the 192,000-sf building – one of seven buildings planned in the Terrace Development.

The Terrace is a 109-acre, master-planned, mixed-use development that will have 1.1 million sf of office space plus retail space, 308 luxury town homes and an upscale hotel. The development, being marketed by Colliers Oxford Commercial Inc., will be situated in the northeast quadrant of Loop 360 and the Mopac Expressway. Terrace I and Terrace II, with 115,000 sf each, have been completed. Construction is under way for Terrace III, slated for a mid-2001 completion.

Attracting one of the premier law firms in the country substantiates the development as not only a good location for technology based-companies, but also for traditional downtown tenants, say brokers. “The northwest market of Austin is emerging as Austin’s version of an ‘uptown,’” says Jamil Alam, senior vice president and director of brokerage services at Trammell Crow Co. Alam, who represented V&E in the transaction, believes “downtown Austin will remain a strong, viable, 24 hour submarket” despite the northwest surge.

Don Wood, managing partner in the Austin office of Vinson & Elkins LLP, says the firm does not want to leave downtown, but has been stymied in its search for enough office space to meet anticipated future growth. The Austin office of Houston-based V&E currently leases some 80,000 sf in One American Center at Sixth St. and Congress Ave. Trammell Crow will be handling Tenant Improvement construction on V&E’s behalf, officials say. Founded in 1917, Vinson & Elkins has offices in Houston, Dallas, Washington, D.C., New York City, London, Singapore and Moscow.

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