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IRVING, TX-An effective rent structuring and a surge in multifamily development are getting the credit for a leasing wave in the Las Colinas Urban Center as renewals and new deals take root in a submarket with a 39% overall vacancy.

A chief benefactor of the marketing tactic is the Millennium at 222 Las Colinas Blvd., where Cousins Properties Inc.’s Bill Lokey, vice president of leasing, has just closed two leases, has letters of intent pending for 27,002 sf and is awaiting commitment signatures for another 44,680 sf. “My hope and intent is they will be signed before the end of the year,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “We created a situation that competes with the marketplace of free rent by creating an effective rent scenario that starts paying rent at the effective rate on Day 1.”

Lokey pegs the building’s average effective rent at $16.50 per sf plus electric, with variations for deal size, tenant improvement allowances and term. Leases are averaging six-year terms, with flat rates for five years and a couple bumps at the end for longer deals. In today’s market, the submarket’s deals have shrunk to a range of 5,000 sf to 15,000 sf, but Lokey says, “the key is there are more deals in the marketplace.” Larger deals will return, but it won’t be until late 2004 or early 2005, he says of the 6.1-million-sf office inventory.

Year to date, Lokey has signed 284,728 sf, of which 168,435 sf have been renewals and the balance in new deals for the 835,044-sf Millennium. He says the deal-making is driving the best showing ever, noting the year could end with 311,730 sf signed, sealed and delivered.

The Atlanta-based Barton Protective Services Inc., the building’s security, has taken 7,843 sf to shift a training center from a downtown Irving location. The long-term lease, with an option to extend, was done to get the operation under one roof, where the firm has been a longtime tenant in a 4,500-sf suite, Lokey says. Jim Lob and Michelle Stanley, a Grubb & Ellis Co. team in Dallas, represented Barton Protective Services. The move takes place this weekend.

In another newly signed headquarters pact, Greystone Communities Inc. re-upped 31,239 sf and added 12,050 sf for the long term. Finish-out is under way, with occupancy of the new class A space planned for Dec. 1. And, of course, the Cousins’ team is still talking about the 8,390-sf coup with the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lokey says the deals, particularly the renewals, are a testament to the building’s ownership, TIAA-CREF of New York City. Equally important is the prestige of a Las Colinas address and the owner’s “willingness to make effective deals with high-credit prospects,” he says of the strategy.

The Atlanta-based Cousins’ sale of four tracts to multifamily developers also are fodder to tempt corporate signings, Lokey explains. The 1,300, high-end units will double the submarket’s inventory, but won’t come on line until 2005.

Hanover Co. of Houston is building the 341-unit Lofts at Las Colinas, with an October 2004 delivery planned. By early 2004, Palladium USA of Dallas will break ground on the 306-unit Lofts Canal Side, a sister project to its Grand Treviso and shortly thereafter the Billingsley Co., another North Texas branding, will start a 238-unit development that’s still waiting to be named. Also sitting at the starting gate is United Dominion Realty’s 365-unit Mandalay on the Lake.

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