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IRVING, TX-A build-to-suit is the only way to go in today’s current economic climate, say area executives involved in a 268,000-sf project that has lassoed Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. as a long-term tenant.

It’s a classic win-win for all. Woodbine Development Co. gets its largest DFW Freeport user out of the year-long negotiations for a 14.8-acre tract abutting Nissan’s 17-acre, 230,000-sf parts distribution center. Nissan gets to double its space in a three-story office project being designed with a full-amenity campus. And, the region gets more jobs in the long run and a shot of adrenalin in the short term.

The financing arm of Nissan North America Inc., poised for a high-growth year, has inked a long-term lease with Wells Operating Partnership LP of Dallas. Wells has signed a full Dallas team for the project. Champion Partners Ltd. is the developer; HKS Inc., the architect; and Thos. S. Byrne Inc., the general contractor.

The sale leaves Woodbine with just 54.3 acres–all fronting Interstate 635 and bringing $9.66 per sf–to hawk out of 550 that have been under development since 1979. Another closing could come down in October, Tim Stiles, Woodbine Development’s vice president, confides to GlobeSt.com. A 9.5-acre tract is under contract to a full-service hotel developer.

Nissan’s project, which breaks ground in January 2002, doesn’t mean the region has turned the corner on tight economic times. But, emphasizes Stiles, “it is a very strong statement for the metroplex and projects centered around the DFW Airport.” Spec office construction has failed for the most part to get off this year’s drawing boards. The build-to-suit is, says Stiles, “the safest way to go at this stage of the game. A lot of real estate has come to a screeching halt in the current market.”

Woodbine’s DFW Freeport is situated between Interstate 635 and Texas 114, just south of the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. The park currently has 1.8 million sf of office space and 3.2 million sf in showroom-distribution space–at least half of which has come via build-to-suits, says Stiles.

Nissan, a park user since 1987, services 12 states from its 17-acre distribution hub and South Central Regional office and training facility. When the newest project is completed in February 2003, Nissan will take the lead role in the park, outdistancing All-State Insurance by nearly 98,000 sf, according to Stiles.

For the past decade, Nissan has leased a nearby 150,000-sf site at 2901 Kinwest Parkway, a holding of New York-based iStar Financial Inc. That office, says a Nissan contact, employs about 600, the same figure he says will be used to jumpstart the DFW Freeport building. An insider says predictions of 800 to 1,200 jobs surfaced during the Nissan talks.

In a prepared statement, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. president Katsumi Ishii hinted that more growth is coming with the DFW project, which also will be used “to increase internal efficiencies.” That, reports one insider, could translate into a transfer of jobs from California. Nissan is going full throttle in expansions in Mississippi, Tennessee and Michigan, where jobs are being added at a rapid pace in white- and blue-collar levels, says the Nissan source.

Champion Partners represented Wells in the land buy. Frank D. Ricca and Kelley Kackley, both of Dallas-based Staubach Co., negotiated on Nissan’s behalf in the lease talks. And, Tom Pearson of Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. was the listing agent for the Woodbine property.

Ricca confirmed other options were brought to the table, including “existing facilities not commonly known as becoming available. The build-to-suit option gave Nissan the ability to create a campus environment, maximize the value of their existing facility” and, he says, an amenity base that includes a cafeteria, child-care facility and fitness center.

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