ST. LOUIS-Omicron Theta Omega Chapter Fund Inc. has signed a lease to fully occupy the 110,057-sf office building at 1881 Pine St. The company operates the Ethel Hedgeman Lyle Academy, and will use the building to open a grade six to 12 college prep school.

The building had been vacant for about a year, after former tenants A.G. Edwards and the Spark Agency left for other buildings, says Wanda Wyatt with Solon Gershman Inc. She represented Omicron in the lease, and Andrew Sheir with Jones Lang LaSalle represented the landlord 1881 Pine Street LLC. Wyatt tells that the company signed a 10-year lease, and is paying an average rate of $9 to $10 per sf over the term. “They’re not a typical office tenant, so the lease is structured for this particular tenant to make sure the landlord’s needs are covered. It’s a net lease,” she says.

Sources say the building was purchased for $5.8 million by Brascan Real Estate Opportunity Fund from Developers Diversified in October 2005. The facility is 20 years old, but was renovated in 1999.

Omicron is a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a sorority established by African-American college-trained women in 1908 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC. The mission of the school is to provide challenging and world-class instruction for children so that the opportunity to label the youth as “at-risk” is significantly reduced.

Wyatt says that the school was happy to lease the relatively young building on the west edge of Downtown. “They really wanted a modern building, and this property is already wired for technology. The focus doesn’t have to be on the structure, it can be on the educational offerings,” she says. “More younger families are moving into the city, and I think you’re going to see more and more of these charter schools taking office space. The area’s in transition, and there’s probably going to be even more growth as Downtown expands, and there will be need for these charter schools. There’s another branch of the school already leasing space in an office building in the center of Downtown.”

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