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DULUTH, GA-Duke Realty Corp., one of the largest class A office development players in metro Atlanta with a portfolio of 3.6 million sf at 93% occupancy, is about to get even bigger. The Indianapolis-based developer has purchased a total 102 acres in this suburban city where the firm plans to develop a seven-building, 960,000-sf office campus.

The construction period is scheduled to start in 2007 and be completed over a five-year to seven-year period. Duke bought 101 acres from BellSouth Telecommunications Inc. and a single adjoining acre from a private owner. The developer didn’t disclose the purchase price in a prepared statement. However, area industrial brokers familiar with the Duluth submarket, tell GlobeSt.com the land, which is near the Gwinnett Arena and the Sugarloaf Country Club, was probably sold for at least $300,000 per acre ($6.89 per sf) or a total $30.6 million.

Since the land has already been zoned by Gwinnett County for office use, the purchase price could reach $500,000 per acre, industrial brokerage sources in a position to know, tell GlobeSt.com. That would make the estimated total acquisition price about $51 million or about $11.50 per sf.

The deal was done at this time because Duke is confident Gwinnett County will continue to be one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, the company says. Georgia has 159 counties. “Duke was drawn to this site based on its proximity to local road and highway systems, including I-85 and Sugarloaf Parkway, a variety of housing options and area amenities such as the Gwinnett Civic Center and Arena,” the company states.

Another factor in Duke’s decision to buy the land now was the average net positive leasing of about 200,000 sf of class A product annually over the last six years in Gwinnett County submarkets, according to the company. “This is a significant land position [for Duke] that offers us the opportunity to expand our presence in the northeast submarket through speculative development, build-to-suit and third-party projects,” the company states.

Duke has 125 broker associates in metro Atlanta. The company, owns, manages or has under development nearly 15.5 million sf office and industrial properties nationally, and controls about 900 acres of land for future development, according to the company.

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