COLUMBUS, OH-Grange Insurance has bought the Brewer’s Yard properties, a 110,000-sf office and retail complex at 585 and 605 South Front St., and a nearby vacant lot for $15.2 million. The purchase is part of a $105-million expansion plan for the company in the Brewery District, where the firm now occupies 280,000 sf.

As part of the growth plan, the company had also previously paid for the Salvation Army property at 570 S. Front St., and is building a $90-million addition to its current 11-story structure. The nine-story, 240,000-sf addition will house office space and a 13,000-sf data center. The company has experienced tremendous growth in the past seven years, nearly doubling from $716 million in revenues in 2000 to an expected bottom line of $1.3 billion in 2007.

Milt Lewis, facilities planning manager for the firm, tells that the purchase of the Brewer’s Yard buildings was a strategic move. “Right now, they’re mostly occupied, we even have some space that we had rented in there. The balance of the buildings is occupied by other tenants, and right now we’ll keep them in. It’s just good to have the space available to do whatever we might do for our headquarters in the future.”

He says the buildings are about 85% occupied. “There’s one office space on the second floor of one of the buildings that’s open,” Lewis says.

The company is also building a 1,000-car, covered parking garage, for both Grange employees and for the Brewer’s Yard tenants, Lewis says. Construction on the current projects is about 25% completed, he says, with steel about to go up.

The Brewery District is on the southern edge of Downtown Columbus, where a lot of new residential development is taking place, Lewis says. The office environment has been there longer, about 30 to 40 years, he says. The Columbus office market rents range from $16.03 per sf to $19.40 per sf, depending on the quality of the building, according to a Grubb & Ellis first quarter market report.

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