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AUSTIN-Conversion projects–industrial to office, warehouse to restaurant or office to loft–aren’t that unusual, especially as the needs of a market change.

Still, converting an ice rink to office space is a stretch. That’s what Lucian Morehead, a senior associate with CB Richard Ellis in Austin, is trying to do with the ice rink at Northcross Mall. The switch is part of a transformation from mall to a mixed-use office, retail and conference center at the mall on Anderson Lane in north Austin.

“This type of project hasn’t been done in Austin, TX,” he says. “On this type of scale, I don’t think it’s ever been done.”

It will take, he says, “a little bit more creativity.” That’s something Austin companies have in abundance. In south Austin, Hire.com Inc. has converted the former Austin Opera House to offices for its headquarters and in north Austin, Hoover’s Online is set up in a former Mrs. Baird’s Bread bakery.

Morehead is pitching the Northcross space–about 30,000 sf–to call centers and technology company users that could take advantage of its big power supply infrastructure. “To keep that ice frozen, it takes a ton of power,” Morehead says. “It could light up a couple of office towers.”

So far, there are no renderings of what the space might look like as offices. “We are build-to-suiting it for the tenant,” Morehead says. “If they want 10 offices and open area, we’ll do that or if they want all open area or all hard wall offices. It all depends on the tenant and the cost of the improvements.” He says the price is $13.50 per sf, which he says is below the class B price for space with class A amenities.

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