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ORLANDO-Strong client relationships are paying off again for Duke Realty Corp. The Indianapolis, IN-based REIT has convinced Florida Power Corp. to lease the entire four-story, 108,500-sf Northpoint III office building at Northpoint Park of Commerce in suburban Lake Mary, FL, 30 miles north of Downtown.

Duke and Florida Power officials couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com publication deadline to learn the value of the lease. But area brokers familiar with the Lake Mary/Heathrow/Sanford submarket tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the estimated value of the 10-year lease with five-year renewal options is $21.7 million.

“At an estimated $20 per sf, this tenant is getting a good deal in one of the hottest commercial markets in Florida,” a Lake Mary broker not associated with the transaction tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

For Duke, the Florida Power deal was a natural. The REIT developed a 45,000-sf call center for the utililty at Northpoint in 1997. In January of this year, Florida Power contracted with Duke to lease 85,000 sf at Northpoint III where it plans to consolidate three offices in suburban Maitland, FL, east Winter Park, Fl and Altamonte Springs, FL. About 225 employees will start to move into the new building in November.

Taking the additional 23,500 sf will probably get Florida Power’s signature on the face of the building, brokers surmise.

“Our deal with Florida Power showcases our ability to meet the needs of companies in this region,” Chris Seger, Duke’s senior vice president, Florida operations, says in a prepared statement.

Besides the consolidations, the utility is also closing 33 customer-service offices across Florida and replacing them with 150 pay stations in individual retail stores and shopping stores. The company will retain its operating call center at Northpoint.

For Duke, the fast leaseup of Northpoint III is triggering construction plans for Northpoint IV, a planned four-story, 119,000-sf, class A spec office building on 8.11 acres in the same park.

Construction is expected to begin by Sept. 1 and be completed by June 2002 on a fast-track construction schedule of nine months. The building will offer floor plates of 29,600 sf and parking for 523 cars. A La Quinta Hotel is planned next to the building.

Northpoint Park of Commerce is in the southeast quadrant of Lake Mary Boulevard at Interstate 4 and has direct access to Lake Emma Drive.

Besides Northpoint, Duke is developing office product at Celebration, FL in nearby Osceola County and has industrial space under development at LeeVista Center in southeast Orlando near Orlando International Airport.Duke’s Orlando-Tampa portfolio comprises 3.7 million sf of office and industrial product.

Sandy Chace, Duke’s vice president, office leasing, Orlando represented her company on both the initial 85,000-sf lease and the 23,500-sf extension transaction. Jim Anthony and Catherine Miller of Anthony Allenton Commercial Real Estate in Raleigh, NC negotiated for Florida Power.

Carolina Power & Light Co., a subsidiary of Raleigh, NC-based Progress Energy Corp., bought Florida Power in September 1999, creating the country’s ninth largest utility based on generating capacity.

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