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INDEPENDENCE, OH-Duke has given up, at least temporarily, on selling its 1.3-million-sf remaining office portfolio here, and has hired CB Richard Ellis to manage and lease the 14 properties. Jim Connor, EVP of Duke’s Midwest region, cited shifting market conditions in a statement as the reason to call off the sale attempt.

Duke tried to sell off all of its holdings in the Cleveland area, and managed to divest its entire 1.8-million-sf industrial portfolio in July 2006, and also was able to sell eight office properties to a joint venture of King Group and the Gotham Organization for about $171 million, an average of $191 per sf, in March 2007. However, a Duke spokesman said a deal for the 14 other properties fell through. “We thought we had a buyer, but then the markets turned south on us. We came very close, but the buyer was not able to obtain the financing they could live with,” the spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. He says he cannot reveal the name of the buyer.

The 14 properties are along the Rockside Road corridor in Independence and near Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted. The properties, which include Park Center Plaza III, Corporate Plaza II, Freedom Square II and Great Northern Corporate Center III, are about 85% leased, the spokesman says.

Duke officials have told GlobeSt.com in past stories that it wanted to get out of the Cleveland market to concentrate on faster-growing regions. Since it has transitioned many of its brokers out, the company no longer has a good management team to run the properties, necessitating the CBRE hire, the spokesman says. “They really know the market well,” the spokesman says. About 10 remaining Duke sales personnel have been hired by the CBRE team, he says.

Any buyer interested, either in the portfolio or even one or two of the propreties, should still contact CBRE and Duke, the spokesman says. “We’re a developer, even if we finish a brand new building tomorrow, it’s always on the market,” he says. “We think in all likelihood we’ll be holding onto this portfolio for at least two more years.”

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