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HOUSTON-Duke Realty Corp. has won bragging rights to a 90,000-sf class A office build-to-suit, signing Oslo-based Det Norske Veritas to a 10-year lease for an Energy Corridor project. The two-story office building, with an all-in development tab hovering $15 million, breaks ground in June and will be done by Feb. 1, 2009.

David Hudson, senior vice president in Houston for Indianapolis-based Duke, tells GlobeSt.com that the location was the dealmaker, taking the first tract of land in an off-market deal from a partnership, led by John McCormack of Houston, who’s planning an 80-acre business park for the rest of the land between Mason Road and Grand Parkway, about a half-mile from Interstate 10. The 6.83-acre site at 22535 Colonial Pkwy. is across the street from Simon Property Group Inc.’s Grand, 1.2 million sf of retail in two under-construction projects.

“We bought this land specifically for this deal,” Hudson says. “It’s a great location, great site with really good office potential.” He says Jackson & Cooksey Ltd. senior vice presidents Andy Iverson and John Beach and principal Jim Cooksey looked at several sites in the Energy Corridor in a goal to put the company closer to amenities and energy-related clients and still maintain a convenient commute for its employees in Katy and northwest Houston. “That was really the impetus for the move,” Hudson says, adding “they liked the fact that Simon controlled the land next door.”

Powers Brown Architecture of Houston is designing the shell, with 45,000-sf floor plates and a 4:1,000 parking ratio, while Ziegler Cooper Inc., also from Houston, will do the interiors. Hudson says the building is being designed for LEED Silver certification. “It’s designed to be functional in the event DNV moves out in 10 years,” Hudson adds.

Hudson says DNV now occupies 74,000 sf at 16340 Park 10, a mixed-use development in Katy east of the development site. He says DNV’s executive leaders plan to bump the 200-employee regional office to 350 in the coming three years. Founded in 1864, the risk management consultant for the maritime and energy sectors has 300 offices in 100 countries.

The DNV is a coup for Duke’s Houston team because it is its first build-to-suit in the market. “It was a good win for us,” Hudson concludes, adding the competition was stiff for the deal.

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