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BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND-Law firm Wragge & Co. LLP has agreed to lease 250,000 sf in the planned 320,000-sf Two Snowhill office building here. The building is part of the UK$300 million (US$594 million), one-million-sf Snowhill development, that will also include the 250,000-sf One Snowhill office, a Westin Hotel, 336 apartment units and retail.

The 14-story Two Snowhill, overlooking Central Boulevard, will be completed in 2011. Wragge is moving from its existing offices at 55 Colmore Row. “This is a real coup, we’ve snared the best professional services firm in the local market,” says Richard Probert, with the project’s development company Ballymore.

Consultant firm KPMG has already pre-leased 120,000 sf of One Snowhill, which should be completed in about eight months. “We’re actively talking to other companies for the remaining floors of One and Two,” Probert tells GlobeSt.com. He says he can’t reveal the agreed-to lease rates, but says the asking rate for the remaining space is UK$30 (US$59.4) per sf.

Probert says the market, the second largest in the country after London, has about 15 million sf of total office stock, with an average absorption rate of about 500,000 sf of class A space per year. “We’ve taken half of that in one fell swoop,” he says. The rest of national market is slow, he says. “We’re off the boil, everyone is very cautious reacting to the global doom and gloom. There’s been oversupply rumors,” Probert says. “But in Birmingham, investment values are better positioned, and the recent leases seem to be indicative of confidence.”

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