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IRVINE, CA-Opus West has broken ground on its third office high rise in a series in this city’s fast-growing airport area submarket, the 314,074-sf Opus Center Irvine III. The 13-story class A building at Main Street and MacArthur Boulevard will complete the developer’s 900,000-sf master plan for the project site.

Opus expects to complete the new tower in September 2007, according to Matt Montgomery, the director of real estate development for Opus West. He notes that the two previous buildings in the series, Opus Center Irvine I and Opus Center Irvine II, are more than 95% occupied.

Opus Center Irvine II sold in late 2004 to its largest tenant, Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP, and Opus Center Irvine I was sold to Prudential in 2001. Current tenants include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Morgan Stanley, New York Life and Miller Brewing Co.

Opus has named Dean Chandler and Al Masters of CB Richard Ellis in Newport Beach as leasing agents for the new high rise, which will feature floor plates of approximately 25,000 sf. The developer is banking on a continuation of demand that has pushed lease rates to new highs and vacancy rates to new lows in Orange County in the past several years.

Market surveys show that much of the growth in the office market has occurred in the airport area, which has accounted for much of the absorption in recent years. Industry observers say that the airport area office market benefits from the proximity to amenities like the nearby 130,000-sf Sports Club/LA Orange County, restaurants, hotels and shopping.

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