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DALLAS-A quartet of power players in the financial and legal arenas has taken down 150,173 sf in the Crescent, setting off a series of moves that includes a shuffle of the owner’s regional office. The back-to-back signings have generated the most activity in five years for the 1.1-million-sf trophy.

The Crescent, with a reputation for long-time tenants, has hit 95% occupancy with two renewals and two newcomers. The short take on the deals is Bear Stearns Cos. Inc. renewed 34,396 sf and McKool Smith re-upped 88,249 sf while Credit Suisse First Boston USA Inc. moved into 17,227 sf and Stanford Group Co. grabbed 10,301 sf. The Houston-based Stanford signed a seven-year pact and the others pledged to stay for a decade in the Uptown collection of towers at 200 Crescent Court.

John L. Zogg Jr., Crescent’s managing director of asset management, tells GlobeSt.com that the team’s been courting CSFB and Stanford nearly six years. With leases expiring, CSFB moved from JPMorgan Chase Tower in North Dallas and Stanford left Metroport Office Building in Las Colinas.

Bear Stearns was practically a shoo-in renewal, but that wasn’t the case with the McKool Smith trial firm. The 14-year tenant eyeballed every new building rising or planned for the CBD and Uptown. “They looked hard to see if they could reproduce what they had at the Crescent,” Zogg says. “At the end of the day, they came back.”

McKool Smith’s wheeling and dealing was limited to Victory, Rosewood Court, Harwood International and the Crescent–all in the same economic ballpark. According to street talk, the stiffest competition came from Hillwood’s Victory project. McKool Smith re-upped two years early after spending one year weighing the headquarters decision. The firm’s four-floor lease in the 300 Building takes effect July 1, says Tony Click, Crescent’s vice president of leasing.

Zogg says the New York City-based Bear Stearns re-upped a year early. The regional office spans the entire second floor in the 200 and 300 buildings. But, the plan calls for a move Aug. 15 to the 13th floor and part of the 12th in the 100 Building. Click says Bear Stearns pitted staying put in its 10-year spot against moving into a new finish-out and decided to shuffle rather than work around renovations.

The Boston-based CSFB took over the balance of the 11th floor in the 200 Building, picking up the last of 50,000 sf vacated a few years ago by the Thompson Coe Cousins & Iron law firm. Click says the deal was timed to coincide with Thompson Coe’s lease expiration.

Stanford set up shop in temporary space to allow time for a shuffle of Bear Stearns and Crescent Real Estate Equities Co.’s regional office. The regional team is taking over 10,000 sf of Bear Stearns’ space when it moves and vacating the fifth floor of the 300 Building for Stanford.

The Crescent’s reputation keeps the halls filled despite having the highest prices in the city: $32 per sf to $36 per sf. Still, it does occasionally lose a name. The team just learned Monday that a top law firm–a 20-year tenant–will be vacating 88,000 sf on the upper floors in the 100 and 200 buildings. The firm’s partners are looking to land in the CBD. “We haven’t had a block like this since KPMG left five years ago,” Click says.

Click says he’s already holding two request for proposals for the high-brow address, which doesn’t open up until mid-2006. “There were people kind of hovering,” he says. “They were waiting to see what they were going to do.”

It’s not always easy to get through the Crescent’s door, aside from the availability of space. The landmark’s owner has been careful to cherry pick the financial and legal industries for tenants. At last count, there were 70-plus financial services firms on the roster. “It’s real important to get the right customer mix,” Zogg says. “This customer list is as good as it gets. There’s not a better list in any project in the country.”

Click negotiated the deals for the owner, Crescent TC Investors LP. Carl Ewert and Jeff Staubach, both with the Staubach Co., represented McKool Smith. Paul Whitman and Brad Selner, also with Dallas-based Staubach, ran talks for Bear Stearns. CSFB’s broker was Jay Annand with CB Richard Ellis Inc. and Stanford had CBRE’s Peter Danna bargaining on its behalf.

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