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DENVER-MCI Worldcom renewed its 124,988-sf lease in the Cental Business District’s second-largest lease so far this year. The seven-year lease at 707 17th St. is valued at $22 million.

Ironically, the only larger lease is the 162,000-sf, 10-year renewal earlier this year by Manville, which is located along the same plaza at 17th and California streets as MCI.

MCI has been a subtenant of Atlantic Richfield Oil Co. since the energy company left Denver about eight years ago, says Bruce Basham, leasing agent for MCI Tower’s owner, Crescent Real Estate of Fort Worth. MCI leases floors 38 to 42.

“Their sublease expires at the end of the year, so we turned it into direct space,” Basham tells GlobeSt.com. “ARCO was the largest tenant in the building, taking 400,000 sf, which it subleased. MCI was the largest tenant in that space.”

The MCI Tower is the only Downtown office building owned by Crescent and is its “flagship” property in the Denver area, Basham says. The building includes 500,000 sf of office space and 500,000 sf of hotel rooms in the Marriott.

Basham says the lease is not only good news for the building, which is currently 99% occupied, but for Downtown and the region.

“With all of the recent press about vacancies and layoffs, I think this is a bit of positive news,” Basham says. It took a while to put the deal together, he adds. Paul Keilt of Equis Corp. also brokered the deal.

An MCI spokeswoman says the company “sees no financial benefit” to discussing why it decided to stay put, and refused to comment on the lease other than to confirm it.

But Cindy Christensen, director of economic development for the Downtown Denver Partnership, says her group feared that MCI might move to the suburbs or leave the state.

“We had heard both,” Christensen says. “Because of the ton of layoffs with telecommunication companies, you never know what is going to happen. They could have gone anywhere. They could have left a few people here as a skeleton crew and moved elsewhere…This is great news for Downtown. We bill ourselves as the telecom center, with Qwest and now with MCI staying. Sprint also has a big presence Downtown.”

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