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DALLAS-After 18 months of weighing all options, the law firm of Bickel & Brewer has grabbed the one put into play by its existing building owner to keep the 13-year tenant in the Dallas CBD’s Bank One Center.

The 12-year lease for the international headquarters was renewed about two years early with “an economic package that we felt we couldn’t refuse,” John W. Bickel II, co-founder and co-managing partner of a litigation firm with a far-reaching reputation for winning its cases, tells “We’re exactly where we want to be, at the right numbers.”

Bickel & Brewer went to market early, but merely to “make sure…that we had the best building in the market. We wanted to be convinced that this was the best deal for us,” Bickel stresses, noting that clients from near and far constantly praise the location and quality of its 48,183-sf office, with a mock courtroom, in the 60-story high-rise at 1717 Main St.

The 60-member law firm occupies the 48th and 49th floors in the 1.5-million-sf building, owned by Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. and the Chicago-headquartered Trizec Properties Inc. in a 50-50 partnership. The deal included TI dollars for space upgrades, but Bickel says there’s no deadline pressure to spend the capital. The office area was renovated about two years ago so any upcoming construction is at least six months away, he adds. The deal also includes expansion rights to the 47th floor of the Philip Johnson-designed high-rise.

Bickel says the firm’s team–Trammell Crow Co. principal Phil Puckett and senior associate Searcy Ferguson–presented every possible leasehold imaginable during the 18-month search. All class A buildings in the CBD, Uptown and Central Expressway submarkets were reviewed and Las Colinas was eyed as a build-to-suit prospect, Ferguson says. The short list was pared to five properties. Don Dowell of Trizec Properties’Dallas office represented Crescent in the negotiations.

“Clearly when you added everything–economics, culture of the firm, the downtown–it was definitely the right decision to make,” says Ferguson.

Ferguson nor Bickel will talk about the rate. A real estate source tells that word on the street is the economics were “tremendous” and the renovation allowance was “substantial.” The building is quoted at $21 per sf to $24 per sf.

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