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ALISO VIEJO, CA-Engineering giant Fluor Corp.’s decision to move its corporate headquarters to Dallas was a business decision and not a real estate play, but the engineering firm’s move has put a 100,000-sf office building in play in a Southern California market where investors have been eagerly seeking such assets for years.

Although Fluor is moving its corporate offices to be closer to its client base and not as a means of cashing in on the county’s office market, the company’s move comes at a time when buyers have been steadily bidding up prices and an improving Orange County office market is filling buildings at a considerably faster clip than it did as recently as two or three years ago.

(See related story.)

Fluor’s announcement that it will relocate its corporate offices from the 100,000-sf building at One Enterprise Dr. leaves a number of questions unanswered, such as whether it will vacate all 100,000 sf or will continue to occupy some portion of the building. Regardless of the answers to those questions, however, the engineering giant will still retain a large presence in the county. Fluor occupies several hundred thousand sf of office space at its engineering facilities in a complex near the headquarters building. Both the headquarters and the nearby campus were developed for Fluor by Lowe Enterprises Inc. of Santa Monica. And regardless of what happens with the headquarters building, Fluor will remain a huge user of office space: The Aliso Viejo facilities are part of approximately six million sf of space that the engineering concern occupies worldwide.

Fluor’s headquarters was not officially on the market yet as of Wednesday, but the company’s move to Dallas, reported on GlobeSt.com Wednesday, is scheduled to be completed by early 2006, with a Cushman &Wakefield team in Texas leading the search for a site near the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport. Cushman & Wakefield’s local offices have also handled a number of Fluor real estate assignments in Orange County.

Fluor is keeping its philanthropic foundation here and its headquarters move “will have no effect on the company’s Southern California engineering operations,” according to Alan L. Boeckmann, the company’s chairman and CEO. The sale of the headquarters building will mark the second time that Fluor has sold an Orange County headquarters facility. The first was the sale of its former Irvine campus, along the San Diego Freeway near Jamboree Road. Fluor developed the Irvine headquarters in the 1970s in a move from Los Angeles, then moved to Aliso Viejo after selling the Irvine property.

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