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HOUSTON-ABB Inc. staked its claim at Westchase Park, becoming the first tenant to sign on at the 270,000-square-foot office park. The company is taking 83,812 square feet though an 11-year lease, and will make the move during January 2010.

ABB, which will use the space for its Process Automation Division headquarters will relocate from 3010 Briarpark Dr. Confidentiality agreements have kept financial considerations under wraps, however, the quoted lease rate at Westchase Park at 3700 W. Sam Houston Pkwy. South is $22.50 per square foot, triple net, with tenant improvements running $30 per sf.

“ABB will be moving into the first phase of this project, which is under construction,” says Jeff Pace, a project partner with Austin, TX-based developer Simmons Vedder Partners. “We’ll deliver the shell space in June of this year.” Pace tells GlobeSt.com that other proposals are out for remaining space, but no more space has been claimed.

“I’d characterize the current marketing conditions as mixed,” he remarks. “Before Hurricane Ike and the credit crisis, market activity in Houston in general was robust, but it’s decelerated since that time.”

As the market dictates, Simmons Vedder will break ground on Westchase Park’s second phase, a twin to the first office building. Pace explains that the company was on track to break ground on phase two and did a minimal amount of site work before putting the project on hold. “We have construction drawings, a permit and we’re ready to go for the right user,” he says.

Though current construction prices for similar projects range from $210 to $240 per square foot, with prices coming down, Pace anticipates “more favorable pricing.” Construction won’t launch, however, without a fairly significant pre-lease commitment, Pace goes on to say, adding that Simmons Vedder is targeting energy companies as potential tenants, as well as those that service the energy industry such as software and engineering companies.

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