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OAKLAND, CA-The law firm of Boornazian, Jensen & Garthe has signed on for 18,715 sf on the 18th floor of 555 City Center, raising the percentage of leased space to 56% in the new 486,000-sf Downtown office tower.

Jensen & Garthe engages primarily in insurance defense litigation. The 50-person firm is moving from 1800 Harrison St., also in Oakland. The seven-year lease commences in December.

The building’s ownership is a 50-50 partnership of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio and a fund that includes San Francisco-based Shorenstein Co., which also manages the building. Robert Tasker and Deborah Castles of CM Realty in Oakland handled the lease transaction for the law firm. Shorenstein was represented in house by John Dolby, vice president of leasing for Oakland City Center.

Dolby tells GlobeSt.com that the tenant will get a $50 per sf tenant improvement allowance to build out the space, which is currently in shell condition. The asking rate for the space was $30 per sf per year, full service. Net effective rents for similar type space are in the $28- to $29-per-sf range.

The building has seen several new deals in recent weeks. In March, Matson Navigation Company signed a 52,580-sf lease for a little more than two floors in the building that commences in January 2004. The domestic ocean carrier is relocating from 333 Market Street in San Francisco, a building in which Shorenstein also has an ownership interest.

Also in March, the Federal Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation has signed a lease for 5,616 sf on the 2nd floor of the building. The 10-year lease commences July 2003. In February, the Federal Public Defenders Office signed a long-term lease for 12,998-sf of office space on the building’s sixth floor. The agency will move from the Federal Building in Downtown Oakland in July 2003.

“I don’t know why, but we have a very high conversion rate,” says Dolby, who has been leasing space for 16 years. “A huge percentage of prospective tenants that take a tour in the building end up leasing space.”

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