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PHILADELPHIA-BDP International has signed a lease that expands its headquarters in Penn Mutual Towers from 63,000 sf to 80,000 sf and adds another five years to its existing agreement. This takes occupancy in the conjoined class A office buildings at 510-530 Walnut St. in Center City to 96%.

The aggregate value of the transaction is $8 million, according to Jim Egan, SVP in the local office of Grubb & Ellis. He and Wayne Fisher, also a Grubb SVP, were sole brokers in the transaction and represent the property owner, Loeb Partners Realty LLC.

The office asset consists of a 13-story and a 23-story Neoclassical buildings completed in 1931, a 23-story contemporary building, constructed in 1975, and a 585-space parking garage. The three buildings have an aggregate of 828,000 sf.

Penn Mutual is in the Independence Square submarket, second only to West Market in rent rates. According to Matthew Wright, Grubb’s research services manager, office vacancy in the Independence Square submarket dropped to 7.5% at year-end 2006, and class A asking rent rates averaged $23.79 per sf, up significantly from approximately $21.50 per sf in the previous quarter.

As for Independence Square’s position in relation to West Market, Egan points out that there are fewer buildings in Independence Square, and it has a higher percentage of class A office buildings. Of the BDP renewal and expansion, he tells GlobeSt.com, “This is a great example of the type of transaction that is changing the vacancy picture here in Center City. We continue to see strong growth from existing CBD tenants, which is good news not only for these companies, but also for landlords and the city.”

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