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WEST CHESTER, OH-GE Aviation is picking a 43-acre site here for a new $55-million office complex. The property, the location of the recently razed Queen City Sports Complex at Union Centre Boulevard, is purchasing by Duke Realty Corp. for a planned 800,000-sf office campus.

The aviation firm, which is a division of GE Electric Corp., is now in about 650,000 sf of leased space in buildings on Merchant Street in Springdale, OH, about seven miles away. Both sites are in Cincinnati’s North Interstate-275 submarket. About 1,400, mostly contract engineers, will move to two 201,900-sf buildings on the new site–both four stories tall and “L” shaped–with the opportunity to expand to more buildings in the future.

The company had considered staying where it is, and also relocating to cities such as Evendale or Erlanger, OH, which along with West Chester had offered financial incentives. However, a GE spokesman tells GlobeSt.com, that the choice was more about needed space than the money. “We needed room for expansion,” the spokesman says. “This used to be a racetrack, there’s plenty of room for us to grow. You’re dealing with engineering teams, where proprietary information is worked on, and our office space now is tight. Now we can construct interiors very specifically to what we want to do. Plus, it’s literally 45 seconds off the I-75 exit.”

The incentives are part of the attraction, the spokesman says. With its 10-year lease, the tenant will get about $200,000 in tax rebates a year. However, as part of the deal, the region will charge employees of the company a 1% income tax. “They pay 1.5% in Springdale, so it’s even a slight tax break for employees,” the spokesman says.

He did not reveal the lease rate the company will pay Duke for the office complex, which should be ready for move-in by December 2009. The average rate for the area is about $19.87 per sf for class A space, according to a second-quarter Grubb & Ellis market report.

Duke already leases more than one million sf to GE across the country. The Indianapolis-based developer is also completing construction of a 300,000-sf manufacturing facility for the aviation division in Batesville, MS.

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