DENVER-Shea Properties Inc. has broken ground on a $24 million, two-building office campus for a subsidiary of Visa USA in the Highlands Ranch Business Center.

The Visa Debit Processing Service division will process $1 billion in credit card transactions from the facility, which includes a one-story, 50,000-sf data center and a three-story, 110,00-sf office building, says Matt Anderson, who put together with fellow Staubach Co. broker Barry Dorfman. The data center is slated for completion in June and the office building in April 2002.

The new campus is the second largest project in the business center, falling next in line to Lucent Technologies’ 600,000-sf office campus, Anderson says. “It’s great for Shea Properties in that it adds another credit worthy, anchor tenant to their business park,” Anderson says. “In this tight labor market, it’s great to be in Highlands Ranch, where you have all of the housing, yet great access to DIA from E-470 ( a nearby toll road). But, you don’t have the traffic congestion.”Dorfman says he and Anderson had looked at about 30 sites all along the corridor and narrowed the choice to five before settling on Highlands Ranch.

Kevin Schultz, a Visa vice president, the operation’s 65,000-sf facility is overcrowded by the 250 workers. By the time the relocation occurs, Visa estimates its workforce will total 325. About 60% to 75% of the workers live within a 10-mile radius of the site, a factor used for the selection process. Schultz says an analysis of employee zip codes was conducted prior to making a final decision.

According to Dorfman, Visa is a ”very high-profile client” that received a ”very aggressive” lease rate from Shea Properties, owner of the sprawling Highlands Ranch master-planned community southeast of Denver in Douglas County. He says rent will be 30% lower than if they had stayed at the existing building where Visa leases five floors.

“One of the company’s greatest concerns was for their employees,” Dorfman says. “They’ll have great views of the mountains and they back up to open space so they’ll have the security and privacy that they need. They also have excellent highway access.” A cafeteria and workout room have been incorporated into the design.

The first two buildings are situated on an 11-acre site, but Visa holds another 4.4 acres, which could accommodate another 110,000 sf. “It’s a great location that gives them a lot of flexibility as far as growth,” Dorfman says.

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