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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

TAMPA, FL-Four Highland Oaks, a new four-story class A office building on the city’s east side, has signed its first tenant. Nortrax Inc., a heavy equipment dealer, now occupies 24,000 square feet in one of five buildings at the suburban business park.

Moline, IL-based Nortrax, which offers John Deere equipment to the construction, mining and forestry industries, will move into three times larger space and create 60 jobs, according to Duke Realty Corp., the company’s new landlord. Approximately 100 employees will work at Nortrax’s new office in the 128,000-square-foot building at 4042 Park Oak Blvd., near Interstate 75.

Tim Hain, vice president of Tampa operations for Indianapolis, IN-based Duke Realty, says interest in the new building and other space at Highland Oaks has picked up over the past few months. “It’s still slower than it was two years ago, but we are seeing glimmers of hope that deals are coming back to the market,” Hain tells GlobeSt.com.

Four Highland Oaks, which opened in February, is the latest office addition to the I-75 submarket, one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest with more than seven million square feet. Vacancy in the corridor measured 18.5% through the first quarter, with more than 100,000 square feet of negative absorption and 349,000 square feet of construction under way, according to statistics from Cushman & Wakefield of Florida.

Asking rents in the I-75 corridor are currently $22.41 per square foot, on par with the market average, with a dollar more for class A office, Cushman & Wakefield says. Duke Realty would not disclose additional terms of the Nortrax lease.

Highland Oaks encompasses 575,000 square feet of multitenant office space at the crossing of Falkenburg Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Notable tenants include the headquarters of Quality Distribution Inc. and regional offices for McDonald’s Corp., along with several insurance and engineering firms.

Tim Murphy, Nortrax president and CEO, says the company’s new shared services center at Four Highland Oaks will allow the company to offer more efficient customer service to its 60 dealerships nationwide, including 11 in Florida. Hain says additional leases are being negotiated for the building, with leaseup projected over the next 18 months.

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