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FORT WORTH-In a resounding win for the Downtown, Sundance Square’s trophy Carnegie will be sporting a 3,756-sf Comerica bank on its first floor and a 12,000-sf commercial banking group on its sixth. The spaces go live in early December, timed to coincide with the ribbon-cutting of the 280,000-sf building.

A Comerica spokesman says the search is underway for a leader of the Tarrant County headquarters office, an adjunct to the Dallas operation which has stood as the banking giant’s HQ since since August 2007. Fort Worth’s rise in prominence on the national level, its built-in wealth for investment and its strong undercurrent of doing business with its local players have made it almost imperative for businesses, like Comerica, to open shops in both cities although they’re commonly thought of as one by the outside world.

“Comerica is plugging into the Fort Worth community, which is a key method to do well in this city,” says Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square, the guardian company and owner of the 20-block Downtown and the Carnegie’s developer. The Comerica lease, inked with a minimum seven-year term, pushed the 16-story building at 421 W. Third St. over the 80% preleasing mark.

Campbell says the initial search for a bank to fill one of two retail spaces in the Carnegie began at least six months ago. “There were quite a few banks that expressed interest,” he tells GlobeSt.com, “but Comerica clearly was the lead choice.” The Carnegie’s tenant roster to date is a mix of professionals, financial and oil and gas companies like EOG Resources Inc., which has bumped its 100,000-sf headquarters lease to 196,507 sf during the course of construction.

Campbell says EOG occupies roughly 60,000 sf in three buildings in the CBD, all owned by Sundance Square. In prepping for the Carnegie’s delivery, EOG’s management team has turned to exercising options to ensure it has room to expand. “They’re still growing at a fast pace,” Campbell says.

Comerica’s Tarrant County HQ will fill half of the sixth floor. As would be expected, its name will light the building, but in a manner in keeping with the Sundance streets: a corner blade sign and awnings with its name. “It will be respectful of the architecture,” Campbell stresses. The Carnegie was designed by renowned architect David M. Schwarz of Washington, DC with BOKA Powell of Dallas as the interior architect. Comerica’s broker was Nathan Wood, first vice president with CB Richard Ellis in Dallas.

Besides functioning as the Tarrant County HQ location, Comerica’s commercial team will provide services for wealth management, treasury management and small business operations. The first-floor bank is one of three in Comerica’s pipeline, with retail locations in the works for 5925 Overton Ridge Blvd. and 4351 Western Center Blvd., both in the city limits. Comerica already has branches open in Arlington and Bedford, both Tarrant County.

The Carnegie’s tenant hunt has been led by Bill Booker, Sundance’s leasing director, who has floors two, four and five and part of the Comerica’s sixth floor left to fill in the office component and an 8,000-sf street-level retail space. The office space is tagged at $27.50 per sf plus electric. As for the retail, Sundance is known for being particularly choosy about tenants so it’s more the name and category than the rate, always billed as negotiable, that ultimately fills the space.

Campbell says the second, and last, retail spot most likely will be one tenant and complement the city library, which is right across the street. The categories are much like he’s sought for other Sundance locations: soft goods, specialty retail and restaurants.

Campbell confides that talks are underway for the remaining retail and office openings, but there are no more names ready to discuss. However, there are enough deals working in the pipeline to fill the new trophy, he says. “But, they may not be all ready to light at the opening,” he adds. “You work prospects until the deals are all done.” EOG will be the first tenant to move in, beginning around Sept. 25 in a 10-week phased-in occupancy earmarked for completion by the building’s grand opening in early December.

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