ORLANDO-The Orlando office of Trammell Crow Co. has beaten out five rivals to win a four-building, 950,000-sf industrial leasing and management contract from Dallas-based L&B Realty Advisors Inc., an affiliate of London-based Old Mutual PLC.

The contract is the largest leasing and management deal of its kind this year in Central Florida, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Five national real estate companies competed for the contract, Crow senior associate Gregg Ickes tells GlobeSt.com. Ickes, recognized by the Central Florida Real Estate Society as one of Orlando’s top five producing industrial brokers, will handle the leasing portion of the portfolio. Rachel Sardenga, Crow’s property manager, will oversee management in the entire portfolio.

L&B selected Crow after Cincinnati-based Corporex Inc., the buildings’ previous leasing and management provider, decided earlier this year to exit the Orlando market.

“The selection of Trammell Crow, with their emphasis on superior customer services, reflects on the quality of this investment,” L&B asset management director Jim Horton says in a statement. “We are looking forward to Trammell Crow maintaining this investment as one of the prime properties in the Orlando market.”

The value of the contract wasn’t disclosed but Crow’s total fees will be tied to the overall leasing performance of the properties which have an aggregate average occupancy of 62%. About 300,000 sf of modernized space is immediately available.

“The South Orlando industrial market has experienced an increase in demand and new leasing activity within the bulk warehouse sector throughout the first half of 2003,” Ickes tells GlobeSt.com. “With the improving dynamics in the south Orlando industrial market, we feel L&B’s assets are extremely well positioned to benefit from the increased tenant demand for class A, cross-dock warehouse space in south Orlando.”

The properties are the Beeline Distribution Centers I and II, built during 1997 and 1998, at 2501 Investors Row, and Crossroads Business Park Buildings V and VI, constructed in 2001 at 501 Gills Drive. Major tenants in the portfolio are Ikon Office Solutions, Gulf South Medical and McKesson.

The average asking rent range is $3.65 per sf triple net to $4 per sf triple net. The 62% average occupancy level in the portfolio is largely due to Crossroads VI “still being in the lease-up phase,” Ickes tells GlobeSt.com.

The properties have cross-dock loading configurations, 30-foot minimum clear heights, 150-foot concrete truck courts and ESFR fire suppression systems. “The portfolio is extremely well-located, providing building frontage along the Beeline Expressway (State Road 528) and excellent access to such major thoroughfares as the Florida Turnpike, Beeline Expressway, John Young Parkway and Interstate 4,” Ickes says.

Still, Ickes and his associates will have a challenging assignment with the L&B portfolio, according to first-quarter statistics from the Orlando office of Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc. The company’s report shows the Southeast and Airport submarket of 8.2 million sf of total space in 110 buildings has an overall vacancy level of 21.2%.

First-quarter leasing activity totaled only 50,247 sf with direct absorption of 164,561 sf. New construction completed totaled 181,000 sf with 63,325 sf of new space under construction.

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