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MADISON, WI-In another example of massive search engine Google’s efforts to locate offices near universities with strong computer science departments, the company has leased 5,000 sf here in the Downtown. The firm will be in the top floor of the three-story Harvester Plaza, at 301 Blount St., and will use the space for hardware and software systems design.

The company is using talent from nearby University of Wisconsin-Madison to head up the office: James Smith is an emeritus professor of electrical and computer engineering, and James Laudon is an industry expert and graduate of the same department.

The firm, based in Mountain View, CA, has been taking up space in recent years around other large college campuses. For example, Google has an office in Austin near the University of Texas, and has promised to hire more than 1,000 people at its office in Ann Arbor, MI, where the University of Michigan is located. “The city offers an excellent quality of life, a deep talent pool and a commitment to education at all levels,” a company spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. “We open offices wherever there are talented engineers who want to take on some of the world’s most challenging engineering problems, and Madison definitely fits this description.” The company, which has almost 7,000 employees, has other offices that include Seattle, Chicago and Birmingham, MI, and is rumored to be looking at space in Boston, Boulder, CO and Phoenix.

The 110-year-old Harvester Plaza is undergoing a $3.5 million renovation project, says Craig Stanley, EVP and head of Siegel-Gallagher’s local office. He and Scott Flanagin with Los Angeles-based Warren Wixen Real Estate Services represented Google in the lease, and the Rifken Group, owners of the building, represented themselves. “They wanted to be in something funky, that’s their style, and this building fits that bill,” Stanley tells GlobeSt.com. He says the rest of the 30,000-sf building is vacant, and asking lease rates are in the mid-$20s, gross.

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