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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

ORLANDO, FL-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., a familiar name in the school textbook industry, will move its local operations to SouthPark Center, in the city’s southeast submarket, after signing a long-term office lease with Flagler Development Group. The Boston-based company will occupy more than 250,000 square feet in two buildings at the complex.

John Guitar, Flagler’s vice president and market officer for Central Florida, says HMH will join several other local firms with substantial operations at SouthPark Center, including Wyndham Vacation Resorts and Busch Entertainment Corp. He says the company was drawn to the 276-acre development because of its proximity to Orlando International Airport, as well as the fact that it is among only a few office parks in the area that can accommodate larger users.

“This submarket is really coming into its own as a recognizable location for corporate headquarters,” Guitar tells GlobeSt.com. He adds that SouthPark Center has the capacity to accommodate 2.9 million square feet of offices, of which about half has been developed over the past decade.

HMH’s lease is one of the largest office deals so far this year in the Orlando metropolitan area, and possibly statewide, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The Southeast Orlando submarket’s vacancy rate finished the third quarter at 10.3%, which is well below the areawide average of 15.8%, C&W reports.

What is remarkable about the lease is that HMH is willing to commit to such a large office lease while many companies are contracting their space needs lately. “I wouldn’t say it’s a recession-proof business, but there is always going to be a need for school textbooks,” Guitar says.

HMH executives say SouthPark Center’s state-of-the-art facilities and expandable space make it the ideal office site for its local operations. C&W brokers Rick Solik and Gil Dailey represented the company in its lease negotiations with Flagler.

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