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DALLAS-Over the weekend, Preston Sherry Plaza underwent the initial stages of its first redressing in several years. The North Dallas trophy’s new look is part of a late Friday key-changing that put Cousins Properties Services LP into the driver’s seat within weeks of TIAA-CREF buying it.

Mark Dickenson, senior vice president of leasing in the region for Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc., tells GlobeSt.com that other changes will include adding a 2,000-sf club room and lounge for executive meetings, offering valet parking for all tenants rather than just a select few and eyeing upgrades for Sevy’s Grill, a landmark freestanding restaurant in front of the 147,000-sf office building at 8201 Preston Rd. Over the weekend, crews were to replace landscaping, monument signs and power clean the parking lot, but the region’s inclement weather could have delayed completion.

The New York City-based TIAA-CREF bought the 94%-leased landmark from a seven-year owner in early June. Dallas Central Appraisal District assesses the 1.7-acre asset at $36.75 million or $250 per sf. Given today’s real estate prices and a location at the corner of Preston Road and Sherry Lane at the epicenter of Preston Center, it’s highly probable that the landmark’s rumored $300 per sf sale price was right on target.

“We think this is the best office location based on its visibility and the adjacent amenities in the Preston Center market,” Dickenson says. “But, the building’s had the same look for a long time.” When the polishing is done, he says “it will be the nicest, most visible building in the market.”

In taking the leasing and management keys, the Cousins team is beginning the play with minimal lease rollover on the books. Dickenson says 70% to 80% of the in-place leases are firmly rooted until 2010.

Preston Sherry Plaza’s first two floors or roughly 50,000 sf are designated as retail space, a heavy mix of title and mortgage companies plus Frost Bank. Retail space is quoted at $35 per sf to $40 per sf, triple net. The five floors of office space are tagged at $30 per sf to $32 per sf.

To win the leasing and management assignment, Cousins was in stiff competition with the asset’s former overseer, CB Richard Ellis, which picked it up via the Trammell Crow Co. merger. “There was very intense competition for this property not because it’s a big property, but because it’s the highest profile property,” Dickenson says, adding he believes that the team’s 15 TOBY awards for buildings under its watch was the dealmaker. The pact went into effect yesterday.

In winning the deal, Cousins now leases and manages three of TIAA-CREF’s four office buildings in Dallas/Fort Worth—the 1.6-million-sf Lincoln Centre at 5400, 5420 and 5430 LBJ Freeway in Dallas and 1.4-million-sf Towers at Williams Square at 5221 N. O’Connor Blvd. in Las Colinas. CBRE stands watch over the fourth, the 177,169-sf Park Place at Turtle Creek at 2911 Turtle Creek Blvd. in Uptown.

Preston Sherry Plaza’s leasing team is being led by Cousins’ vice president Jay Bailey and includes vice president Cynthia Cowen and associate Meredith Ford. Cousins’ vice president Ken Pool is managing it.

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