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DALLAS-Some 500 professionals of the Dallas-Ft. Worth real estate community have gotten a long-awaited glimpse of the 1.3 million-sf Genisus Dallas North, the nation’s largest spec telecom project in the making.

And, the leading question in the community has been answered: No leases have been signed as yet. But, S. Joseph Barrett, vice president of the Dallas-based Archon Group LP, tells GlobeSt.com…check in next week. He’s not saying whom, but has confided that a meeting with a board of directors for an unidentified corporation is scheduled. That user, if it signs, is looking at 200,000 sf to 250,000 sf of the now-ready 650,000 sf at the redeveloped Prestonwood Mall in North Dallas. Two or three requests for proposals have been floated with prospective users in the 50,000-sf range. Barrett says he is “reasonably optimistic” that a signing will be in hand before Genisus Dallas North opens in first quarter 2002.

The telecom project is one of six, accounting for 3.5 million sf, in the nation that is being developed by Archon and the Goldman Sachs Group’s Whitehall Fund. Most of the others, says Barrett, have tenants in place, but keep in mind that Genisus Dallas North just started its demo work in February.

Archon has been particularly hushed about the project until yesterday when officials talked freely to the brokerage community at its first-ever joint luncheon–and a sold-out one at that–of the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors, North Texas CCIM Chapter and Crew.

Archon’s leasing partner, Capstar Commercial Real Estate Services in Dallas, conducted tours of the stripped-out mall’s two levels, each totaling 650,000 sf. The interior has been taken back to steel girders, cement floors and cement block walls. But it’s what has been installed that is of particular interest as well as what is to come. Come July, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor will vacate their stores, putting the balance of the 88-acre mall site into Archon’s hands.

Already in place is a 30-foot-wide and 13-foot-high utility spine, stretching 1,300 feet. An estimated 1,500 tons of steel has been set in place to take the upper level to a 200-pound per sf load-bearing capacity. There is access to 10 fiber carriers. Gone are the skylights and in their place a roof. About 60,000 sf has been gained by filling in the skating rink area.

Still to come will be an on-site electrical substation although there is one located just a quarter of a mile away. Genisus Dallas North will be encased with a security fence and round-the-clock monitoring as well as other critical security measures. Also in the offing is a four-story garage that will connect to the Lord & Taylor’s soon-to-be vacated spot and lead to a central corridor that is being designed for smaller multi-tenant space. Genisus Dallas North’s positioning is such, and through some property design changes, will be able to accommodate high-visibility or low-profile tenants. Dallas-based Corgan Associates Inc. is the project architect and Turner Construction Co., also of Dallas, is the general contractor.

Projects of this magnitude always have some unknown facts that surface. In Genisus Dallas North’s case, 3,000 40-cubic containers have been filled with industrial waste, including asbestos, and carted away from the site since the work got under way. To put the project’s size into perspective, the lower level could house 175 full-size McDonald’s restaurants.

Capstar’s Johnny Johnson, who was conducting building tours, says space is going for $22 per sf triple net. He tells GlobeSt.com that no perks are being offered, but the tenant improvement allowance on the average is $500 per sf.

Rusty Perry, Archon vice president, readily acknowledges that the timing could have been better for the nationwide rollout of the Genisus project. “We’re committed to make it work,” Perry told the gathering. “We’re in the game for the long haul.”

Sanford Rothe, managing partner of technology and communications for Deloitte & Touche’s Mid-America Region, is confident there will be “a turnaround in the next 12 to 18 months.” He likened the high-tech downturn to the savings and loan debacle of the 1980s, blaming it in part on capital availability for any company with a dot-com or high-tech strategy. The result has been an overbuilt industry and nearly 18 months of bad press. The bad press will go away, he says, but the Internet is here to stay.

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