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SOUTHLAKE, TX-Verizon Wireless is at a crossroads in Southlake’s upscale Solana project, owned by Dallas-based Maguire Partners. Verizon has just closed a 25-acre buy for a high-tech project while it nears a lease expiration on 130,000 sf of premier office space in the development.

The lease expiration has Verizon’s brokers from Grubb & Ellis Co.’s Dallas office scouting Las Colinas for office space as it enters into negotiations to renew at Solana, GlobeSt.com has been told. “They might end up renewing. It’s time to make that decision,” says Sam Hocker, a Grubb & Ellis vice president. Verizon has been a Solana tenant since 1995.

Solana is one of the most impressive developments in the Dallas-Ft. Worth region. The eight-building project, encompassing more than one million sf, had been built for IBM, which holds a long-term lease on the high-end complex. IBM had downsized its DFW holdings in 1993 and opted to sublease the bulk of Solana. IBM, which has maintained a Solana office, has very little trouble finding tenants for the coveted address. Hocker estimates that just 50,000 sf is vacant by his best guess.

Hocker and Grubb & Ellis’ Lee Wagner have just closed the 25-acre sale for Verizon while Maguire Partners has used in-house representation. The acquisition clears just one more hurdle in Verizon’s plan to build its second network operation and control center in the nation. The acreage is located on the northeast corner of Texas 114 and Dove Road and has been under contract since April.

Last month, Southlake City Council had signed off on the site plan and preliminary plat. Council also approved a four-year tax abatement package that will save about $276,502 for Verizon while returning $662,678 to Southlake for the deal’s duration.

Verizon is eyeing a summer groundbreaking on the $20-million, first phase totaling 175,000 sf. The operations center is a high-tech hub for network equipment and telephone switches plus will serve as the division’s headquarters. An estimated 400 employees should be moving into the first phase in fall 2002, if all goes as planned. Ultimately, the Verizon project could deliver 350,000 and employ as many as 1,000. Pennsylvania-based Kitchens & Associates is the project architect.

In a prepared statement, Verizon manager Ken Unger says the Grubb & Ellis team had started work with “a concept and a stringent set of requirements.” An extensive site search ensued, but came back full circle to Solana.

From a land standpoint, Southlake is the fourth-largest municipality in Tarrant County, consisting of 21.5 square miles. The tony community is better known for its solid economic base, which boasts an average household income in excess of $92,000 annually among its 22,270 population. As of a year ago, Southlake had been 60% built out, with 33% of the development coming from the commercial sector.

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