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THE WOODLANDS, TX-In a decision to disband its commercial division, the Woodlands Operating Co. LP is turning over the reins to a 45-building portfolio to PM Realty Group and Binswanger/Conine & Robinson.

PM Realty gets the management contract for the package, which includes 19 Woodlands-owned properties, and Binswanger/Conine & Robinson lands the leasing. The move eliminates 50 jobs from the 1,125-member workforce, but PM Realty plans to pick up 34 employees for property management, operations construction and accounting.

Thomas J. D’Alesandro, the Woodlands’ president and CEO, says in a press release that several years of property sales have put the company at “a point where it is no longer necessary to maintain internal staffs to service properties now owned by others. We are real estate developers, not real estate operators. We strive to be visionaries, not intermediaries.”

John Landrum, the Woodlands’ chief investment officer, tells GlobeSt.com that four Houston-area firms were in the running for the two contracts. He says the property management contract took five weeks to place because the Woodlands wanted a company focused solely on third-property management.

Jimmy Gunn, PM Realty’s executive vice president, says the firm stepped through two presentations before winning the nod. The plan calls for introducing Web-based property management while the contract spans advice on new developments along with the day-to-day duties.

Dennis Conine, Binswanger/Conine & Robinson principal, says the leasing contract includes marketing new development opportunities for the 1,100-acre town center project, which is less than half built out. The 45-building portfolio is about 80% leased, says Conine, who says it’s possible the two-man shop will end up hiring brokers to help with the account. Landrum believes the firm’s track record made it the right choice for “telling our story to major office users and companies considering relocation (to the Town Center project).”

The decision also brought a one-year consultant’s contract for Woodlands’ senior vice president, Eric Wojner. Landrum says it’s possible the contract will be extended. The permanently laid-off employees will get severance packages, career counseling and job placement assistance.

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