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PHOENIX-The US Census Bureau and Computer Sciences Corp. of Falls Church, VA will set up a regional center in 210,000 sf, signing a three-year lease at Metro South Corporate Park. The back-office space will become a hub for 1,000 workers to sort and tally information for the 2010 Census.

Local sources say the lease in the 660,000-sf park was sealed for close to quote of 45 cents per sf net. Raymond T. Cashen, president of locally based Cashen Realty Advisors Inc., says the US Census Bureau and CSC are handling their own tenant improvements, with plans in the works to substantially overhaul the flex space at 43rd Avenue and Buckeye Road.

Cashen, who represented Dimension Financial & Realty Investments Inc. of nearby Scottsdale, says competition was fierce for the tenant. The US General Services Administration, responsible for all leased and owned government space, looked at eight locations in Phoenix and searched other Southwest cities, including Dallas.

“Their focus was proximity to transportation, ease of access to the site and the available employment pool as well as economics of the transaction,” Cashen says. “Their preference was to be in an all air-conditioned, essentially back-office type of building rather than a traditional office setting.”

That requirement led the federal scouting team to include big boxes and industrial space in its search. Suzanne Drake, vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle in Phoenix, represented the feds.

“We were suited for their requirements because our site had been previously the headquarters for Revlon in Phoenix,” Cashen tells GlobeSt.com. “We already had the air conditioning set up. We had the parking accommodations: it’s paved and well-lit and fenced and secured.”

With help from the City of Phoenix Economic Development Department and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Cashen says a deal was struck that will bring the corporate park, which came on line in the 1960s, to nearly 80% occupancy.

The 60-acre park’s largest tenant is Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., which has 230,000 sf, and Cashen says lease talks are under way with an 80,000-sf tenant. In May, renovations will begin on the remaining vacant space, which has an automated storage and retrieval system. The renovation calls for removal of the building’s steel racks to create an interior with 80-foot column spacing. “A span like that will allow the big operators to come in and maneuver in the building,” Cashen says. “I think there’s a need for that kind of product.”

Cashen says Dimension Financial & Realty also plans to apply for LEED certification. Work is slated to be done by November.

Cashen says the space is being quoted at 50 cents per sf, triple net. “The preference is for a single tenant. We’ve already had several people expressing interest in this,” he adds. “I think this will be leased up before we get it finished.”

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