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ATLANTA-Raleigh, NC-based Highwoods Properties Inc. broke ground Friday on a $21.7-million class A office building at 180 Spring St. that will be leased by the US Department of Homeland Security.

Highwoods was awarded a build-to-suit contract by the General Services Administration to build the 91,000-sf building with structured parking on two acres. The project is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2007.

This is the fourth build-to-suit project Highwoods has been awarded by the federal government in the last two years. In 2005, the company completed 601,000 sf for the government that was 100% preleased. The projects included a 138,000-sf field office for the FBI in Tampa, a 109,000-sf office building for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and a 350,000-sf office and storage facility for the National Archives and Records Administration in Atlanta.

Highwoods director of business development Dave Hofstetter tells GlobeSt.com the company made a commitment about four years ago to pursue more government build-to-suit projects. “[Government entities] are great credit tenants and the lengths of leases are greater than with commercial tenants,” Hofstetter says. “It’s just good business.”

The buildings require more time to design due to the more stringent requirements of the government with respect to security and other issues. For example, setback requirements are greater than with other office buildings. “Once we get the permits in place, they require about the same amount of time to build,” he notes.

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