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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

CORAL GABLES, FL- The Allen Morris Co. has inked its first lease at Ponce de Leon Towers, a new office building due to break ground in the first quarter of 2009. Rockefeller Group Business Centers, a subsidiary of the New York City-based Rockefeller Group, has signed a long-term lease to occupy a full, 25,000-sf floor of the structure that will be constructed as part of the seven-acre Old Spanish Village mixed-use development. Terms of the lease were not disclosed, but rental rates at the building range from $34 to $45 per sf triple net, with operating expenses around $15 to $16 per sf, says Allen Morris, chairman, president and CEO of the Coral-Gables-based development company.

The 16-story tower, which will be located at 2801 Ponce De Leon Blvd., will contain 215,000-sf of class A office space and is seeking LEED certification. The structure is designed after a 15th-century gothic cathedral of Barcelona and is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2011, says Morris. Development surrounding the tower includes the Villas at Old Spanish Village, 38 town homes which broke ground in May; Casa Real, a mid-rise structure with 112 condominium units; El Prado, a building that will include 34 condominium units in a north tower and 30 units in a south tower; and approximately 35,000 sf of ground floor retail.

Howard J. Watler, vice president of Rockefeller Group Business Centers, tells GlobeSt.com the company chose Ponce de Leon Towers as its first site on the eastern seaboard outside of New York City because of its location and design within the mixed-use development. “We’re looking to expand in areas that have certain combinations of features, including a tried and true market of substance, prestige and affluence,” he says. Watler credits CB Richard Ellis broker Randy Olen with bringing the company to the building.

The presence of more than 180 multinational corporate tenants in Coral Gables also drew the company to the development, says Morris. A tenant of such caliber affirms Allen Morris Co.’s strategic investment into the unique property, he adds.

Rockefeller Group will use the space to build and lease about 90 fully staffed and furnished executive suites, offices and conference rooms, featuring state of the art communication and technology services. The turnkey business solutions group currently has locations in New York, California and Tokyo, with clients such as Time, Inc., Sirius Satellite Radio and House and Garden TV (Food Network).

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