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TAMPA, FL-The city’s newest large office building now has a big tenant to go with it. Locally based PBSJ Corp. has signed a long-term lease for 83,000 square feet at the 10-story MetWest One, along Boy Scout Boulevard in the Westshore submarket.

PBSJ, a construction and engineering firm, has 350 employees in Tampa and will move from its current leased location at Cypress Commons in January. Terms of the new lease at MetWest One were not disclosed because of confidentiality agreements, though brokers familiar with the deal say it was signed for slightly less than the building’s current asking rent of $32.50 per square foot.

MetWest One, with 250,000 square feet, is the first of three class A office buildings planned at MetWest International, a mixed-use redevelopment project at the former MetLife Inc. regional headquarters near Tampa International Airport. Additional plans at the 32-acre site call for nearly one million square feet of offices, a 74,200-square-foot retail village, a 260-room upscale hotel and 254 residential units.

“The initial construction and subsequent phases will continue to support our vision to provide a high-quality and unique real estate development appealing to businesses and individuals,” Chuck Davis, regional director of MetLife’s Tampa real estate investment office, stated in a release. He notes that New York City-based MetLife stands firm as a financially strong and dedicated landlord, an important point in the current economy.

“We looked for a facility that could accommodate our unique requirements, offer our employees a great place to work, maintain our current proximity to valued clients and reflect our sensitivity to sustainable design strategies,” added John Zumwalt, chairman and CEO of PBSJ. MetWest One is seeking LEED Silver certification by the US Green Building Council.

PBSJ is MetWest One’s largest client to date, with its contractor Skanska USA Building Inc. signing earlier for 20,000 square feet. The building is opening at a time when Westshore’s normally low vacancy rate reached 17% through the first quarter.

Only one other large lease has been signed in the submarket recently: Law firm Cole Scott & Kissane is moving from Bridgeport Center to 32,723 square feet in Corporate Center Four at International Plaza, across the boulevard from MetWest One.

Taylor & Mathis of Florida Inc. serves as development manager for MetWest International and handles management and office leasing responsibilities, while Florida Retail Partners handles retail leasing. Angela Odell, managing director of leasing with Taylor & Mathis, negotiated the lease on behalf of MetLife. Chad Rupp, Chris Butler and Bryan Rodriguez of Jones Lang LaSalle represented PBSJ.

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