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HOUSTON-Growth and efficiency were the catalysts behind a long-term lease for 60,000 sf of class A office in a renewal and expansion for Simmons & Co. International at Bank of America Center. The Downtown lease nearly doubles the investment banking firm’s size.

Simmons, which began its Bank of America Center tenure in 1984 on one floor, currently has 32,000 on four floors in the eight-story penthouse bank of 700 Louisiana St. Louis Cushman, vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., says the set-up wasn’t particularly efficient. “That, combined with the company’s need to expand, meant they needed to relocate,” the tenant rep says.

Cushman says Simmons looked at other buildings in the CBD for possible relocation, but ended up staying put after ironing out a plan to change floors. “Ultimately, given their longstanding presence at the Bank of America Center, that was always their first preference,” he says. In October, the firm will move to floors 18 and 19, which have 30,000-sf floor plates. Cushman says the floor plates offer everything that’s necessary, including a cushion for future growth.

The 95%-leased building was acquired last summer by the Novati Group of Dallas and an affiliate of Stamford, CT-based General Electric Pension Trust, advised by GE Asset Management. John Spafford, senior vice president and director of leasing with locally based PM Realty Group, tells GlobeSt.com that the new owners’ first priority was to find a practical solution for Simmons’ space requirements.

“As they’d grown, Simmons’ space was losing efficiency because it was spread over multiple floors,” Spafford acknowledges. “It made sense for Simmons to consolidate on two larger floors.”

Spafford says creativity on the part of owner and tenant was necessary to get the long-term deal done, but both worked together well. The downsizing of another tenant opened up space and allowed the transaction to become finalized. The owner’s team included its vice president of asset management William L. McFarland.

Bank of America Center’s space is marketed for $30 per sf to $36 per sf. Spafford says tenant improvements were part of the Simmons deal, but he didn’t go into detail.

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