MOSCOW-Russia’s robust economy is reaping benefits for one of its newest CRE projects, with IKEA announcing that full occupancy has been reached on the first of six planned office buildings at the firm’s Khimki Business Park. Aided by co-listing agent Colliers International Russia, well known firms signing on for Khimki’s inaugural offering include DHL, Ford Motor Co. and Renault.

“We are very pleased that so many distinguished tenants have chosen to move their office premises to Khimki Business Park,” says Mats Nilsson, IKEA’s head of leasing for the project. A similar 15-story structure recently broke ground and is slated for occupancy by early 2008. “The list of prospective tenants is long,” says Nilsson of the next availability. In addition to the half-dozen office buildings, the 1.3-million-sf park will also feature two hotels and a conference center.

The park is located along one of Moscow’s main highways, Leningradskoe shosse, and is a short distance to Sheremetyevo International Airport. Colliers International associate director Natalia Moskalenko notes there are also several infrastructure improvements being made to improve roadway access, with completion slated for 2009 when Khimki Business Park is nearing full build out. IKEA’s “impeccable reputation” as a developer and compliance with high building standards “make the park attractive to its potential clients,” says Moskalenko. The pedigree of the initial occupants should also help draw interest, she adds, and IKEA is planning to put its Moscow offices in the first building as well.

Various trends should help foster growth at Khimki Business Park, according to Paul Blackman, the Russian regional director for Colliers International. Having seemingly shaken off the woes that gripped the city following Russia’s 1998 financial crisis, Moscow enjoyed a record year for office leasing in 2006, he says, and is on pace to break that mark of 1.3 million sf absorbed thanks to a robust first half of 2007. The park also has a reduced rental rate compared to space in Downtown Moscow, says Blackman, who relays that many firms are assessing whether back-office operations can be shipped to outer locations. That anticipated stream of demand was part of the strategy for leasing up Khimki Business Park, Moskalenko concurs.

Other positives that should help Khimki, according to Blackman, are the presence of several large tenants seeking space and a willingness to strike lengthy lease commitments. Deals are now being signed for 10-year terms, says Blackman, adding that extended stability should lead to better prospects for investment sales regionally.

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