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LOS ANGELES-In an exclusive interview with GlobeSt.com, a top marketing official at JMB Realty Corp. says the Chicago-based developer will start construction of the first high-rise to be built in the red-hot Century City market in more than a decade.

“We’ll start construction in March, if not sooner,” says Mark McCaslin of McCaslin Co., the Century City brokerage firm that has been finding tenants for the long-awaited, 34-story office tower at Constellation Boulevard and Century Park West. “The project is definitely a ‘go.’”

Although ground won’t be broken for the new high-rise until next year, the road was paved for its development when entertainment giantMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. last week signed a contract valued at nearly $500 million to occupy 17 floors of JMB’s proposed office complex. The 425,000-sf, 15-year lease deal assures JMB that the building, which McCaslin says will be called MGM Tower and feature the studio’s mascot lion on the top, will be at least 70% full when construction is completed in the spring or summer of 2003.

There’s a good chance that the building might be more than 75% or even 80% full when its doors finally swing open. McCaslin says he’s”negotiating right now with several major prospects,” but won’t say who they are. However, other Westside brokers tell GlobeSt.com that aircraft-leasing giant International Lease Finance Corp. is among a number of prospective tenants who want at least 100,000 to 150,000 sf in the new building.

Though MGM officials formally announced their lease plans to the mainstream media late last week, some local brokers and other insiders knew it was coming last summer. Real Estate Southern California, a magazine published by the parent company of GlobeSt.com, reported in its July-August issue that a deal between MGM and JMB Realty was imminent.

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