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OAKLAND, CA-The commercial real estate brokerage firm BT Commercial has signed a lease for 7,749 sf on the 14th floor of 555 City Center, the newest office building in Downtown Oakland.

Completed in 2002, the 21-story office tower is owned by 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. With BT Commercial and another, smaller lease, the 486,000-sf building’s office space is now 61% leased.

BT Commercial/NAI is one of the largest full-service brokerages in Northern California with over 150 agents. The company will use the space for its Oakland branch office, which is currently located in Jack London Square. The seven-year lease commences August 1, 2003.

BT Manager Jeff Starkovich, who represented BT in its transaction, says he picked 555 City Center because of its proximity to area freeways, mass transit and restaurants and shops. The agreed upon rental rate was not immediately available, but deals in the building recently have been done for between $26- and $28 per sf per year, full service, depending on size and floor.

The other, smaller lease that was announced was by VaRisk, a start-up company providing risk-management services to financial institutions. Moving from San Francisco, the company will occupy 1,550 square feet of space on the building’s 16th floor beginning July 1, 2003.

In April, the law firm of Boornazian, Jensen & Garthe signed on for 18,715 sf on the building’s 18th floor. The 50-person firm is moving from 1800 Harrison St., also in Oakland. The seven-year lease commences in December.

555 City Center also recently landed its first retail tenant. Washington Mutual has leased 2,191 sf on the ground floor for a new bank branch. The branch is tentatively scheduled to open in August 2003.

John Dolby, vice president of leasing for Oakland City Center, represented building ownership in all the lease agreements.

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