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ST. PAUL, MN-Nacel Open Door Inc., a student exchange corporation and private school, has signed a lease for 20,000 for the first and second floors of Galtier Plaza in the Downtown. The organization will move its headquarters to the building, and will use 6,000 for offices and 14,000 sf for its international high school. When the move happens in August, the school will change its name to St. Paul Preparatory School.

The organization is now in a much smaller space in a basement on the campus of Hamlin University, outside of the Downtown. Chris Gliedman, an associate with CB Richard Ellis, says the space just wasn’t working for the group. “As they have grown, it became apparent that they needed more control over their space needs. Plus, Hamlin needed the basement back, so it worked out for everyone,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “The school likes going Downtown, there’s lots of amenities and they’ve got a good public transit system.”

Galtier Plaza is a 221,000-sf office building that was formerly a mixed-use property, with retail and a movie theater on the first three floors. The retail has been removed, and the theater is now a conference room. Gliedman says the building is 72% occupied, and includes a YMCA that the school will be able to use. He says he can’t divulge the deal lease rate, but says the average rate in the area is at about $16.30 per sf.

Right now is a difficult time for St. Paul landlords, Gliedman says, especially with the state pulling about 900,000 sf out of mult-tenant buildings and into state-owned properties, and US Bank giving back a couple hundred thousand sf when it constructed its own building in the suburbs. “The vacancy rate is particularly high in class B buildings, mostly caused by the past 10 years or so of a lot of defection of large users from multi-tenant into single-tenant or owner-occupied buildings. The class B vacancy rate is about 26%, the multi-tenant market is just struggling to fill space,” he says.

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