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SCOTTSDALE, AZ-The Alter Group has replaced the leasing team for two speculative office buildings in its $400-million Riverwalk Arizona. The 165,000 sf of class A space, of which 65,000 sf is filled, has been turned over to Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona Inc.

The office buildings, which delivered in mid-2007, had been under the watch of CB Richard Ellis, which declined to comment on the assignment change for the 187-acre park’s first spec buildings. “Alter is ready to go with other buildings on that site, but they want to get more velocity and buildings leased before they move ahead on another office building,” Michael A. Beall, C&W’s executive director in Phoenix, tells GlobeSt.com. He says the soft market had prevented the two Riverwalk buildings from taking off as Alter anticipated when it broke ground on the spec project in 2006.

According to second-quarter reports from C&W, CB Richard Ellis and Grubb & Ellis Co., vacancies have hovered between 17% and 18% in an inventory ranging from seven million sf to eight million sf. But, Beall points out that the tide is turning, with activity increasing within the past 90 to 120 days.

“A lot of the negative absorption and rising vacancies we’ve seen is more reflective of the lack of activity we had in 2007 and during the early part of this year,” Beall says. “There’s still relatively strong activity in the North Scottsdale market compared to other Phoenix markets.”

Beall says the $26 per sf, full-service rate “offers an incredible value” in comparison to other class A buildings. He says the ideal tenant is one who wants a North Scottsdale address at a decent value and access to executive labor and other labor sectors. “We could ultimately go down to 1,200 sf to 1,500 sf, but only after we create pockets of space in the building,” he adds. The C&W team includes executive director Larry Downey, senior director Jerry Jacobs and associate Chris Walker to market the buildings.

The Chicago-based Alter Group is teamed with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community to develop Riverwalk. In addition to office, the project contains a 300,000-sf build-to-suit developed for Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. and the 142,000-sf Arizona Design Center.

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