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HOUSTON-The under-construction, 689,000-sf Calpine Center edges to 56% pre-leased, thanks to a 54,600-sf commitment by a Houston law firm.

The Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue firm has signed for the top two floors in the 33-story office tower, an undertaking of Houston-based Hines Interests and Prime Asset Management Inc. The calendar has been marked for a November 2003 move-in.

The freshly cut lease sounds like better news than it actually is for downtown Houston’s suffering office market. In reality, the law firm is only shifting from one class A space to another. The attorneys are moving from the Hines-managed JPMorganChase building to the Calpine Center. Still, a Hines contact emphasizes to GlobeSt.com, the firm is expanding by 24,600 sf.

Hugh Whiting, partner-in-charge of Houston firm, says the move provides the necessary room for continued growth. The firm is international in its scope, maintaining offices in 26 cities and employing 1,800 lawyers worldwide. Peter Speier, vice chairman of the Houston office of Julien J. Studley Inc., represented the law firm at the bargaining table.In a prepared statement, Hines executive vice president Staman Olgilvie said the law firm “and others recognize the dynamism of the downtown environment and the attractions of this property.”

The only other confirmed tenant is Hines’ southwest regional office, which has ticketed a full floor, according to the contact. The office will be relocating from the Pennzoil building, also in the CBD. The tower’s anchor, Calpine Corp., is an independent national power producer and the largest producer in Texas.

The Houston office of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum is the designer of the granite-clad high-rise. It sits on the corner of Texas and Milam streets.

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