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DALLAS-In a bid to become a brand name in the metroplex, Amegy Bank of Texas has sealed a 10-year lease with options for 68,000 sf of under-construction trophy office space in Saint Ann Court. Key to the win was getting its name on two sides of the $100-million high rise.

Matt Hildreth, president and CEO of Amegy Bank Dallas, says Harwood International Inc.’s willingness to put upper-bank signs on the north and south faces of the building at 2515 N. Harwood St. set it apart from competing under-construction office projects. “We would have had to take more space in the other buildings,” he tells GlobeSt.com. The minimum volleyed between 100,000 sf and 150,000 sf. Ironically, Hildreth says the Saint Ann Court lease could be expanded before it’s time to move in due to the bank’s fast-paced growth plans for Dallas/Fort Worth.

Amegy Bank, headquartered in Houston, now occupies nearly 51,000 sf at 1807 Ross Ave. The lease has seven years left on the term. Hildreth says he might hold onto 12,000 sf for the operations team, but the balance is up for sublease, a search guided by the same Staubach Co. team that sewed up the Saint Ann Court deal. “Between Harwood, Staubach and ourselves, we’re very confident we will fill it quickly,” he says.

Staubach executive vice president Carl Ewert and senior vice president Brad Selner invested one year into the site search for Amegy’s regional HQ. Hildreth says he initially wanted to go north, but realized during the search that Amegy needed an in-town HQ from a branding and competition standpoint. He says 25 buildings and projects, in-town and in the suburbs, had been evaluated.

Hildreth says not only is Harwood president and CEO Gabriel Barbier-Mueller an Amegy client, but the anchor lease for a location like Saint Ann Court offered the identity that he wanted. Amegy’s north-facing sign is visible from the Dallas North Tollway, Interstate 35 and American Airlines Center; the southern-facing sign will be seen from the Downtown and Interstate 45. “I don’t think there’s any other signage like that in Dallas, except KPMG [1717 N. Harwood St.],” Hildreth says.

The Amergy lease spans floors 16, 17 and part of 18 plus a 3,700-sf retail spot in the lobby of the 320,000-sf, 26-story building. “My bet is by the time we move in, we’ll need some more,” Hildreth says. The prelease includes an option for the rest of the 18th floor and some more on top of that. The move-in is penciled for late 2009.

Hildreth says Amegy has six branches now, including a lobby bank in the nearby One Arts Plaza in the Arts District. By year’s end, there will be nine bank locations. And, he’s searching for more sites in Frisco, Tarrant County and McKinney in his bid to become a top-ranked regional bank.

Saint Ann Court’s built-in perks include valet parking for tenants and guests, private health club, 11-story above-grade parking garage and access to upscale restaurants, including Marie Gabrielle, which will offer in-office room service.

Slated for completion in first quarter 2009, Saint Ann Court is Harwood’s sixth class AA building in its 16-block district. The developer’s in-house team of Nathan R. Durham, David Roehm and Jihane Boury negotiated the landmark anchor lease. The pre-construction rate had been $31 per sf for seven- to 10-year terms, but the sticker price was expected to climb to $37 per sf to match Harwood’s other buildings after construction got under way.

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