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HOUSTON-Hundreds of Houston business leaders last night toasted the opening of 5 Houston Center, a $117-million, 580,875-sf office building at 1401 McKinney St. It is the first office building to rise in the CBD in 16 years.

Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities developed the sleek high-rise, but it is now owned in a joint venture with JPMorgan Fleming Asset Management. The 27-story office building debuted at 88% leased.

John Goff, Crescent’s vice chairman and CEO, said the REIT has invested more capital–in excess of $1 billion–in Houston than any other city in its network. With 5 Houston Center coming online, he said there isn’t an immediate need for more office development in Houston, but the REIT is on the lookout for possible acquisitions, as evidenced by last week’s participation in the heated face-off for Enron Center South.

It took 16 years for another office building to be constructed because Houston was “redlined” by many investors after its troubles in the 1980s, Goff tells GlobeSt.com.

Crescent does have land set aside for future development, including 12 city blocks east of the Houston Center complex plus land in Greenway Plaza and the Energy Corridor, according to Bob Boykin, Crescent’s regional vice president of leasing and marketing.

The 5 Houston Center is anchored by Ernst & Young and Jackson Walker LLP, both of which have moved into their brand-new offices. Ernst & Young is occupying 147,000 sf under a 10-year lease. It relocated from 139,000 sf at Crescent’s 1 Houston Center. Despite the lateral move by one of the complex’s largest tenants, the 3.3-million-sf Houston Center development is 95% leased. Boykin said 50,000 sf of E&Y’s vacant space has been re-leased to the law firm of Powers & Frost.

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