FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-Stiles Corp. will be breaking ground in December on the 23-story, 411,000-sf Las Olas City Centre. The $680-billion-asset Bank of America has already signed for some 18% of the space.

The 10-year lease for a total of 75,000 sf includes signage privileges at the top of the tower. This will give the bank what it calls a “flagship” presence in a city where the name is relatively new after a recent changeover from merger partner NationsBank.

Although no dollar figures were released, class A office rents in the city’s CBD have recently averaged $27.53 per sf, which would peg the aggregate value of the bank’s lease at more than $20 million. However, one industry source reports that offering prices in the project begin at $20 per sf.

On the building’s scheduled completion during the third quarter of 2002, the BofA will occupy the entire eighth and 21st floors, plus a portion of the ninth floor, for Broward County headquarters. Approximately 250 bank personnel will work in the new building, primarily staffing local, regional and certain statewide business units.

Additionally, BofA’s current Downtown customer-banking center will be relocated to 8,400 sf of ground-floor space at Las Olas City Centre. Altogether, the new building’s 71,000-sf ground floor will offer 45,801 sf of retail space. Project plans incorporate a five-story parking garage.

Building ownership is a partnership of Stiles Corp., the Horvitz family, Halmos Holdings and Whit Hudson. Various divisions of Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles will be responsible for financing, development, construction, leasing and management of the new tower. In dealings with the BofA, Stiles’s brokerage unit acted for the owners, while Lincoln Property Co. represented the tenant.

Stiles tells that ongoing negotiations are likely to produce more signed leases in advance of the project’s completion. Potential tenants are said to include high-tech companies attracted to such building features as 24,000-sf floorplates offering fiber-optic cable access.

Designed by Cooper Carry Architects of Atlanta, the new tower will front the 400 block of Las Olas Boulevard. Plans include a pedestrian-friendly entry plaza that will open onto a high-traffic-volume lobby. Office floors are to be serviced by high-speed elevators.

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