IRVING, TX-CB Richard Ellis Investors today will unveil a $4-million makeover plan and new name for the 833,390-sf Millennium Center. The crown jewel will be marketed as the Urban Towers, the third asset in the local portfolio to undergo a branding strategy for “free” amenities and increased rentable space.

In the case of the Urban Towers’ redo, the plan is to pick up an extra 10,000 sf in a lobby expansion to create a centralized entrance for the two-tower high rise at 222 W. Las Colinas Blvd., keying in on landscaped entries to grab the additional space. As the makeover swings into action, the Los Angeles-based investment group is considering a construction start on a third high rise to build out the 11.27-acre site. The north tower is 464,020 sf and the east, 369,370 sf–a trophy piece that gets its new strategy play teed off at this weekend’s Byron Nelson PGA Classic.

The Urban Towers’ construction contracts have yet to be let, but the plan is to start work in July and wrap up in February 2007. The lobby overhaul includes stripping travertine marble from walls and replacing it with fabric to “soften” the environment along with building out a one-stop, five-star service center on the first floor, just like the owner’s done at its other Urban Center properties, the 364,336-sf Tower on Lake Carolyn at 900 Lake Carolyn Parkway and 369,659-sf Summit at 545 Las Colinas Blvd. Each has undergone a $3.2-million renovation, including the reconfiguration of a conference center- athletic club-deli portal, which is being added to all CBREI-owned properties, says William Lokey, a CB Richard Ellis first vice president of asset services in Dallas.

In the Urban Towers’ project, the amenities are in place unlike the other two buildings, where the service centers were more ground-up propositions. The Urban Towers’ five-star service center is ticketed to come one line at the end of December. The athletic club, now in the basement, will be shuffled to the first floor to abut a renovated conference center, deli and management office. “We’re going to put them up front and make them visible,” Lokey says.

Lokey says the five-star service center strategy “takes shared space and converts it to rentable space.” He explains the components then are eligible to be courted as “free” to tenants and prospects because they’re included in the rate instead of being marketed with a per diem or membership fee. He tells that the strategy is “an up-front concession” that has resulted in a $2 per sf increase in effective rent. The Tower at Lake Carolyn leases for $21 per sf plus electric; the Summit, $22 per sf plus electric; and Urban Towers, $20 per sf plus electric.

“No one else is doing it this way,” Lokey contends. “This model has gone gangbusters. By growing the complex with this five-star service center, it’s an opportunity to convert ghost space into valuable space.”

At the Lake Carolyn-fronting tower, last year’s renovation included a full floor of ready-to-go, 1,500-sf office suites with a $25 per sf finish-out. The minimum two-year leases were so successful–seven of 11 offices filled in less than four months–that the owner’s decided to add a second floor of spec offices. “Where else in this market can you do flexible-term deals with free amenities,” Lokey says, “and you don’t have to be a 15,000-sf tenant to get it.”

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