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FORT WORTH-As part of the post-merger repackaging of the Staubach Co., Jones Lang LaSalle’s office on the Fort Worth side of the metroplex has added a city native with 23 years in the industry to its ranks to establish an agency leasing line. The group is being launched with two building assignments in hand, including the 954,895-square-foot Carter Burgess Tower which has been in the new senior vice president’s hands since 1985.

“Once the merger was completed, we knew there would be an additional service line that we’d be adding once we found the appropriate person,” says Todd Burnette, JLL’s managing director in Fort Worth. The office’s new senior vice president and head of the new line is W. Whitney Kelly, who officially starts Dec. 1.

Burnette says more news about the new line will come out in 30 days. Burnette, also a city native, launched the Fort Worth shop in May 2002, filling it with local brokers and Dallas transplants, getting a firm positioning in the marketplace before other Dallas-based brokerage houses started to plant second metroplex offices in a city where business ties run deep.

Kelly, in fact, has had the 40-story, class A Carter Burgess Tower at 777 Main St. in the CBD at his side throughout his career, first with its one-time local owner Crescent Real Estate Equities, now owned by New York City-based Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds–just like the high rise–and then during a 38-month stint as one of three principals of Vintage Capital Partners, also a Fort Worth firm. Kelly moved to Vintage long before Crescent’s August 2007 buyout by Morgan Stanley.

JLL’s camp had readied the stage for Kelly’s hiring, recently picking up the leasing assignment for the 122,000-sf Bombay Co.’s headquarters building at 550 Bailey Ave. The office building is owned by Crescent’s former top gun, John Goff, who used a longstanding private venture, Goff Capital Partners, to buy the asset in November 2007.

Kelly says he will solo on the JLL agency leasing unit, building the stack of leasing assignments before brokers are added for the team. “I will take advantage of the resources that Jones Lang LaSalle has in the Fort Worth office,” he explains to GlobeSt.com. “They have some young guys in the office that can help out. We have to be mindful of the owners we have before we reach out to others, but the goal is to grow the business substantially.”

This year, several brokerage houses have opened shops in Fort Worth to mine the agency leasing business in a city with a CBD largely controlled by the Bass family’s Sundance Square, guardian of a 20-block stronghold of retail, office, entertainment and residential space. “This is a new business unit for Jones Lang LaSalle in Fort Worth, but not a new business unit for Jones Lang LaSalle,” Kelly emphasizes. “I expect the competition will be robust, but I think there will be assets for the taking for several companies.”

Kelly says the JLL opportunity went on his desk in September. “To establish agency leasing in Fort Worth had a lot of appeal for me,” he says, adding he will spend the rest of November transitioning to JLL from Vintage, where he is remaining as an investor.

As for Carter Burgess, it will be business as usual from a leasing perspective. Kelly says talks have begun for “three or four” renewals that come due in 2009 and the largest open block is half of the seventh floor, roughly 15,000 square feet, which is being marketed for $28.50 per square foot plus electric.

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