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ORLANDO-Ignoring a slumping economy and taking advantage of a robust-leasing office submarket in east Orange County near the University of Central Florida, Charlotte-based Crescent Resources LLC is erecting Three Resource Square, a $20 million, five-story, 150,000-sf structure expected to be completed by July 2003.

The spec building, with an estimated hard construction cost of $133 per sf, will complement the three-story, 90,667-sf One Resource Square and the four-story, 122,579-sf Two Resource Square completed in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Both are fully leased and owned by the Brookdale Group of Atlanta.

The newest project brings Crescent’s total development in the park to 363,246 sf. The 33-year-old subsidiary of Charlotte-based Duke Energy plans to build a total 900,000 sf in the 1,000-acre park.

Second-quarter statistics from Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc. show the East Orange County-University submarket has a direct 8.8% vacancy level out of 2.15 million sf of inventory at 31 monitored buildings.

Except for the small Orlando International Airport submarket of 498,085 sf and a vacancy of 6.2%, the East Orange-UCF sector is the strongest in Central Florida’s class A office market.

Weighted average class A quoted rents in East Orange-UCF are $20.09 per sf. The submarket had a negative 6,967 sf of second-quarter net absorption with total gross leasing activity of 31,027 sf. Under construction is 104,177 sf.

Two other spec office buildings under construction are Opus South Corp.’s 105,000 sf project scheduled for completion in January at Quadrangle Office Park near the Central Florida Research Park; and Lincoln Property Co.s’s 45,000-sf structure nearing completion at Maitland Concourse in Maitland where Metropolitan Title Insurance Co. will be the anchor tenant.

The 5.54 million-sf Maitland submarket has a vacancy level of 11.7% with average quoted rents of $21.24 per sf. That 57-building market had second-quarter direct absorption of 32,765 sf with gross leasing activity to date of 217,658 sf. Under construction is 72,000 sf.

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