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BUDAPEST-The Hungarian office of Colliers International has launched a new service, Colliers Select Program, which is focused solely on class A-plus office buildings. The firm defines the A-plus category as buildings that stand out for their “central location, historical significance and the detail and finish of the building.”

Budapest-based Hamish Williams, director of office leasing and hotels for Colliers International, tells GlobeSt.com that the Select Program will serve building owners and tenants alike because both who gravitate toward the class A-plus buildings have very specific reasons for choosing the properties. “Select clients are very concerned about the image of their company reflected in the building they occupy. Even though money is a serious consideration, there is great value in occupying a piece of history,” Williams says.

The “Select” service is tailored for users like high-end attorneys, embassies, top private bank offices and the like. “Their requirements for image, security and privacy are different from those of other class A tenants,” Williams says.

From the building owners’ perspective, Williams says “while profit is of the utmost importance, for many developers these projects are a labor of love. They take great pride in the workmanship and the architecture. All you have to do is see the restoration of the Lotz Hall by ORCO to understand this.” ORCO Property Group is a Luxembourg-based firm that is restoring a property called the Paris Department Store in Budapest and Lotz Hall is one of the best-known architectural elements of the landmark department store.

Williams says the Select Program is designed to integrate and reconcile the varied interests of tenants, building owners, architects and others involved in the landmark buildings it is marketing through the program. “Investors are there for the funds, architects offer the vision, developers provide the expertise, the Hungarian Cultural Heritage Office gives the permission and the broker provides the return on the investment,” he explains. “These buildings require true collaboration from people who don’t always think the same.”

In addition to the Paris Department Store, other buildings in the Colliers Select Program include the Palazzo Dorottya and Sofia Palace, the former residence of the Bishop of Budapest and the launch pad for Colliers’ new service. Until the launch of this new service, Colliers marketed these buildings in much the same manner as it markets other class A buildings, Williams tells GlobeSt.com.

At other class A buildings, Williams says “the service level is still high and still applies to 90% of the market activity.” However, when Colliers invites clients to view Select properties, it touches on the modern conveniences built into the heritage building, the architecture, history and other unique qualities of the building.

Colliers sees the potential to expand its Select Program to other office markets beyond Budapest and Hungary and is planning to roll out the program for other product types too. Williams says the Select Program will expand into the hospitality market in 2009 for Five-Star-plus properties, for example.

“Even though office occupants and hotel operators are quite different from each other, the message is the same. We intend to occupy a piece of history and we expect a top class business environment with modern conveniences,” Williams says. The company may also adapt the Select Program to other geographical markets and property types, but he says it remains to be seen which markets and property types might be down the road.

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