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DALLAS-TIAA-CREF, poised to spend roughly $3.5 million on exterior upgrades, has locked down 184,522 sf in renewals, expansions and new deals for the 1.6-million-sf Lincoln Centre. The freeway-fronting landmark’s overall occupancy has spiked to 94% in a three-week run of back-to-back lease closings.

As a result of the leasing flurry, the largest block of class A office space in the three-building complex is 44,000 sf, according to Jay Bailey, vice president of leasing in Dallas for Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc. “A year ago we could put together 130,000 sf of contiguous space so we’ve really chopped away at that,” he says. In the past year, occupancy has gone up eight percentage points.

With the space firmly locked down for the long haul, the New York City-based owner is ready to roll on the first major exterior change for the complex, situated at 5400, 5420 and 5430 LBJ Freeway, in nearly 15 years. TIAA, which bought the asset in December 2005, already has spent $1.5 million on interiors, focusing on the amenity package.

The final cost of the exterior work is still being tabulated, but “it will be very much a resort feel,” Bailey tells GlobeSt.com. “Our goal is to be the best building on the tollway.” Work kicks off July 1 for an estimated four-month overhaul.

The upcoming changes focus on revamping the entry and grounds: roads, pedestrian promenades and monument signs. The work will be done in stages so traffic isn’t impeded in the complex and Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre at 5410 LBJ Freeway, which is separately owned.

Bailey says he’s bed down nearly all renewals coming due this year. The latest round of renewals and expansions has been inked by Atmos Energy Corp., Valhi Inc. and Griffith & Nixon PC. The list of new deals is bringing Tatum Partners, SunTx Capital Corp. and Emigrant Bank/Fiduciary Network to the complex.

Atmos Energy added 33,458 sf to bump its total to 293,500 sf. The full-floor expansion puts four floors in Tower II at 5420 LBJ Freeway and 4.5 floors in Tower III at 5430 LBJ Freeway under the energy giant’s control. The 20-year-plus tenant signed a 10-year lease for the extra room. Greg Biggs and Craig Wilson of Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. represented Atmos.

Valhi Inc., a tenant for at least 15 years, took down another 9,964 sf in a 10-year deal and extended an 80,000-sf pact for five years to set up co-terminus ends. The 2.5-floor tenant in Tower III had Daniel T. Paterson, president of Swearingen Realty Group LLC, bargaining its terms.

Griffith & Nixon will relocate Sept. 1 to Tower II to get another 14,000 sf, nudging its bottom line to 21,000 sf. The tenant, in place at least 10 years, penned a 10-year pact to expand and extend its existing 7,000-sf lease. Bill Cawley, chairman and CEO of Dallas-based GVA Cawley, was the tenant rep.

Moving in July 1 is Tatum Partners, an Atlanta-based recruiting firm that’s starting out in 18,000 sf in Tower I at 5400 LBJ Frwy. It’s also planning to open a Chicago office at the same time. On the tenant’s side of the seven-year lease were Greg Langston and Bret Hefton with Cresa Partners in Dallas.

SunTX, inking a 10-year pact, will move in Sept. 1 to 15,500 sf in Tower II. The company, adding about 3,500 sf, is now located at 14001 Dallas Pkwy. Bob Acuff, also a GVA Cawley broker, negotiated on the tenant’s behalf.

The New York City-based Emigrant Bank, planning a mid-August move-in, took 6,500 sf in a seven-year deal for its first office in Dallas. Rob Wolfle, a Swearingen vice president, brokered the tenant’s terms.

Bailey says the leasing flurry has pushed occupancy to 90% in Tower I, 92% in Tower II and 100% in Tower III. Today’s quote is $25.50 per sf plus electric, up $4 per sf in the past 18 months. Tenant-improvement packages are $15 per sf to $25 per sf, right in line with the market, according to Bailey.

“Prospects come to Lincoln Centre, see what they’re getting for the rental rate, see all the amenities and the bang for the buck,” Bailey says, citing the former owner’s 2004 interior renovation and TIAA’s continued re-investment that added two conference centers, improved restaurant space, marketing center with brokers’ lounge and valet parking as part of the perk package. He credits the amenity roster as being the catalyst for 90% of all renewals, claiming “Lincoln Centre has more amenities than any other building in Dallas.”

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