SOUTHLAKE, TX-After nearly 15 months of talks, Fidelity Investments has inked a 10-year lease for a 101,934-sf class A office building in Cedar Ridge Office Park. It’s the third major real estate deal this year in the metroplex for the Boston-based financial giant.

A Fidelity spokesman says the three-story shell, which just delivered last month at 1150 N. Carroll Ave., builds in “a little bit of flexibility and options” to its expansion in Dallas/Fort Worth, where a $200-million, 600,000-sf office building is under construction at its Westlake campus in northeast Tarrant County. The Westlake building, which broke ground last month, is slated to come on line in 2009.

Fidelity has just started the Cedar Ridge finish-out. The building will be ready to occupy in February or March. It’s unclear if Fidelity’s existing teams in Southlake will be uprooted to Cedar Ridge or the space will hold Westlake workers being relocated due to the construction at the seven-year-old campus. Fidelity’s Southlake sites consist of a retail site at 1256 Main St., one of four in North Texas, and a data center at 1576 E. Southlake Blvd.

“We are always evaluating real estate needs and what’s going to work best for our employees and what works best for our customers,” the spokesman explains to Fidelity employs 3,900 workers in North Texas, but plans to have 5,500 on board by the time 600,000-sf building delivers. “We did a longer term lease to give us options down the line if things change from a real estate perspective,” he says.

Phil Puckett, executive vice president in Dallas for CB Richard Ellis, represented Fidelity in the talks with Panattoni’s Texas development manager Daniel Anderson. The new office building, outfitted with 117 underground parking spaces, was marketed for $24 per sf plus electric.

In April, Puckett negotiated a 160,661-sf lease, also with a 10-year term, for Fidelity at 2501 Texas 121 in the 185-acre Convergence business park in Lewisville, about 15 miles southeast of Cedar Ridge and 20 miles east of Westlake. Fidelity moved into the class B office building, owned by Toronto-based Brookfield Real Estate Investment Fund, in the summer.

The 15-acre Cedar Ridge Office Park, a mix of for sale and for lease space, is jointly owned by Sacramento-based Panattoni Development Co. and Courtland Development in Dallas. The Fidelity lease hangs a “no vacancy” sign on the three-year-old project, which includes a 30,000-sf, three-tenant office building and five 6,000-sf buildings that were individually sold. The development had two pad sites, the last of which was sold last month to a local physician planning to build a 25,000-sf medical office building. A bank has claimed the other one.

With Cedar Ridge now full, Panattoni has another decision to make. “Every time we finish a project, we evaluate if we want to hold or sell,” Anderson says. “We are currently evaluating the asset.” He says a decision should be in hand by year’s end, particularly since some would-be buyers are already circling their wagons.

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