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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

SUNRISE, FL-Stiles Corp. has signed New York Life to a 28,230-square-foot lease at its Lake Shore Plaza II, becoming the signature tenant of the local class A office building. The 10-year deal is said to be the largest in Broward County so far this year, an indication of how much the local market is affected by the economic slowdown.

Greg Jensen, South Florida managing partner for New York Life, says the company sought new space for its local operations, as well as “green” space. Stiles is seeking LEED “silver” certification for the 130,000-square-foot building, which opened last summer.

“The building is both a great reflection of the quality of our company, and a solid value,” Jensen says. Additional terms of the lease agreement were not disclosed, though asking rents at Lake Shore Plaza II are currently listed below $22 per square foot, well above the market average.

New York Life, the largest US mutual life insurance company, notes that the “green” aspects of the building were as important as accessibility and construction quality. The company plans to hire 50 people this year for the South Florida market area, which includes the Treasure Coast, Florida Keys and the Fort Myers/Naples area.

Lake Shore Plaza II is a joint venture of Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles and WLD Enterprises. The building, part of Sawgrass International Corporate Park near Interstates 95 and 595, also has T-Mobile and the Florida Bar as tenants.

Although submarkets such as Sawgrass and Downtown Fort Lauderdale have been impacted by tenant consolidations, only modest negative absorption has been recorded through the first quarter, according to CB Richard Ellis. Overall leasing activity for the quarter was down 27% over the year to 283,000 square feet, mostly involving class B space.

Average asking rents for all of Broward County have fallen below $18 per square foot, with concessions gaining momentum during lease negotiations, CBRE stated in its first-quarter MarketView report. New development will remain scarce throughout 2009, putting the market in a better position to recover as the economy improves.

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