PORTLAND-Given today’s market, Fox Tower developer Tom Moyer’s decision to start building the $95-million, 571,000-sf office and retail building when he did, without financing or tenants, seems even more prophetic than when it opened last year 95% occupied.

Not only is Fox Tower’s occupancy rising toward 98% at a time when the Downtown average is sinking toward 90%, but also its fist significant lease renewal effort won’t be necessary for at least three years — right about when the economy is expected to be roaring again.

In the meantime, what little space left to lease in the building continues to shrink. Aliquant, a Connecticut-based maker of sales administration and fulfillment software, two weeks ago leased 6,418 sf on the fourth floor for five years at a full service rate believed to be right around $26 per sf. Aliquant was represented by Chris Elsenbach, CRESA Partners. Scott Madsen, Cushman & Wakefield, represnts Moyer in Fox Tower office leases.

According to property manager Dale Pearce, direct availabilities in the building now consist of about 22,000 sf on three floors. Additionally, Pearce tells GlobeSt.com that a deal is pending for the 11,000-sf, two-story space that fronts Broadway Avenue on the south side of the building’s main entrance. The north side is occupied by Banana Republic.

Pearce would reveal no more information about the would-be user, and listing brokers Mark New and Steve Neville could not immediately be reached for comment, not that they would have spilled the beans. The remaining available retail space is a 10,000-sf restaurant space on the northwest corner of the building, adjacent the entrance to the building’s third-floor movie theater and across the street from a parking lot Moyer donated to the city for a future park.

Moyer, who was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon, told GlobeSt.com in August 2000, shortly after the building was completed, that the only real risk was that the economy would “go sideways” during the previous two years of construction.

“If you analyzed the market, the building is at ground zero, so the (underground) parking was going to be a cash cow with all the retail nearby,” Moyer told GlobeSt.com. “The retail space in the building was also hot from the get go, and with office vacancies low, the only real gamble was the economy.”

And while the theater magnate-turned-office developer gambled and won, as the economy kept chugging for nine months after the project was completed, the developers of a more modest project across town are now trying to avoid the opposite fate.

With no tenants yet secured, New York-based Insignia/ESG and Houston-based Transworld Properties are just four or five months away from seeing their 222,500-sf mid-rise office building completed in Portland’s Lloyd District, which lies outside the Downtown core but still within the CBD.

Dan Swift, managing director of Portland-area brokerage for New York-based Insignia/ESG, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon on any pending deals he may be working. In July of this year, he told GlobeSt.com his goal was to have the fist signed lease in hand by the end of September.

And then came September.

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