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FORT WORTH-Drawing a close to an 18-month search, Transcom Enhanced Services will shift its headquarters from Las Colinas to Downtown Fort Worth. The full-floor lease for 13,440 sf is backed by a five-year stay with options.

Transcom will light the 16th floor of the 19-story Commerce Building at 307 W. 7th St. in February. The historic structure and its 16-story sister, the Oil & Gas Building at 309 W. 7th St., were bought in October for $26.7 million by RYLB FW Properties, a New York City-based investment group making its first purchase in Texas in an off-market transaction.

“We evaluated five or six buildings that could accommodate their needs,” Bill Dowd, senior vice president of CresaPartners in Dallas, tells GlobeSt.com. “But, they really liked the historic and unique qualities of the building.” The class B Commerce Building is a 1930 mix of Art Deco and Gothic architecture, designed by the late Wyatt C. Hedrick for the Fair department store. The adjacent Oil & Gas Building delivered in 1954, nine years before the Fair closed its doors.

Dowd says Transcom’s executive team looked at office buildings in Las Colinas, the Mid-Cities and Fort Worth CBD. “Eventually, they decided that Downtown Fort Worth represented the culture of their company,” he says. Transcom is an eight-year-old VoIP wholesaler with facilities in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles in addition to Dallas/Fort Worth. For the past five years, the headquarters team has been subleasing space from EDS at 1925 W. John Carpenter Fwy. Dowd says the sublease term will expire in sync with the move to Fort Worth.

Darrah Smith, an independent broker who leases and manages the 450,000-sf historic complex, says the Transcom lease pushes occupancy to 75%. To date this year, he’s inked 90,000 sf of leases for the asset, which was sold by a Dallas-based partnership that had once planned to convert it to a telecom hotel.

The new owners are in the process of hiring an architect to execute their renovation plans. Although the cost has yet to be determined, Smith says the lobbies and elevator cabs are definitely in line for upgrades. Since the takeover, some mechanical work has been done.

All that either broker will say about Transcom’s floor is that it will be a substantial finish-out. “The landlord is investing significant dollars in our space,” Dowd says.

With deals in the pipeline due to the CBD’s tight vacancy, Smith is playing the financials close to his vest for the complex, which has a quoted rate of $15.50 per sf plus electric. “We’re one of the few games in town so that’s pretty nice,” he says.

Smith says the Oil & Gas Building is “pretty well leased up,” but there are five full floors open in the Commerce Building. The largest contiguous stacks total about 30,000 on floors four and five and 13 and 14.

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