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CAMBRIDGE, MA-In a dramatic policy shift, engineering firm Camp Dresser & McKee has reportedly agreed to stay put here after entertaining a bifurcated plan to split into two suburban operations. Instead of fulfilling that strategy, sources tell GlobeSt.com that CDM will renew at One Cambridge Place, the nine-story, 183,000-sf building that the firm has occupied since the property opened in 1999.

“I’m very sure that is happening,” one industry source tells GlobeSt.com, a notion supported by others tracking the situation. CDM earlier this year retained Cresa Partners to explore options both north and south of the headquarters, a process initially reported by GlobeSt.com in its March 24th edition. According to sources, however, upper management nixed the plan in a late-stage reversal made for reasons not divulged. There are reports One Cambridge Place landlord MetLife produced a more competitive offer, but sources also relay there were doubts about the efficiency of running two separate operations.

Calls to CDM Chairman Thomas Furman Jr., Cresa Partners and One Cambridge Place’s exclusive leasing agent, Lincoln Property Co., were not returned by press deadline. It is unclear whether the renewal agreement has been finalized, but sources indicate the term is for 10 years and estimate a competitive rate in the low $40-per-sf range. That sphere would be a relative bargain in Cambridge, but is tops for the suburbs and a level normally only seen in core markets such as Waltham and Lexington.

A lack of office space has prompted several Cambridge companies to consider—and realize—defections during the past 24 months, including some possessing lengthy histories in the city. Founded by three scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CDM has been in Cambridge for the past 20 years, and observers conceded it would be a blow to the community should the internationally known firm exit. Despite the high-profile relocations, Cambridge has scored a few prized retentions as well, with the Monitor Group last year renewing at 2 Canal Park in East Cambridge after threatening to leave. “It’s definitely a good thing for Cambridge,” one source says of CDM’s apparent change of heart.

The pending departure was so imminent that some say suburban properties had been identified and negotiations were underway at those facilities. CDM’s supposed departure was also cited for availability increasing to 11.8% in the CB Richard Ellis first quarter review of Cambridge’s 11.3-million-sf office market. That and the uncertain economy slowed a continued recovery that last year saw a record run-up in rental rates for the city, further fueling the exodus trend. Rent growth eased in the first quarter, says CBRE, which puts the average asking rate at $44.91 per sf. The tight climate was so acute that some observers were eager to see CDM leave and free up One Cambridge Place, also known as 50 Hampshire St.

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