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PORTLAND-Two national companies have come to Portland to open 260,000 sf of Downtown telecom hotel space. Williams Communications, a major fiber-optic player based in Tulsa, OK plans to build a 100,000 sf telecom facility at Northwest 20th Avenue and Pettygrove Street in Portland. Centennial Real Estate Corp., a Dallas-based real estate investment company, is partnering with a New York investment group on the rehab and conversion of a 160,000-sf warehouse they purchased on Northwest Everett Street from the Oregon Historical Society.

Telecom hotels are essentially logistical storage and routing facilities for companies providing cable, Internet, voice and data network services to corporate and residential clients. There are three major rings of fiber running under the streets of metropolitan Portland, one of which runs through close-in Northwest Portland. It costs roughly $350,000 per mile to run fiber from these rings to buildings, so telecom hotels are often developed close to these rings.

“There’s a real frenzy in the telecom hotel sector nationwide and Portland is right in the middle of it,” says Cushman & Wakefield broker Ramona Harrington, current president of the Portland Chapter of the Commercial Association of Realtors. “Part of the frenzy has to do with who can get to the market first and gain critical mass.”

If so, the two latest entrants are already behind. In May, San Francisco-based F&F Partners LLC bought the massive, 320,000-square-foot Meier & Frank Warehouse at 1438 N.W. Irving St. to create the city’s largest telecom facility.

Williams Communications purchased the 2.5-acre site it plans to develop from Irving G. Snyder, Jr. The company will use the two-to-three-story structure to connect long-haul fiber optic lines between Portland and Seattle, and will likely not lease out space to other providers. The project should be completed in the fall of 2002.

Centennial Real Estate Corp.’s full-block project will be a co-location facility for multiple tenants. Pacific Telecom Exchange will offer 40,000-sf floor plates, clear height up to 18 feet, high-grade electrical power and multiple fiber carriers. The four-story structure is expected to open in May 200l. Harrington closed both deals. Cushman & Wakefield’s Asset Services Group will handle management and leasing of the facility.

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