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AUSTIN, TX-Thomas Properties Group Inc. has landed the assignment to fill up the 433,024-square-foot 816 Congress. The real estate company is offering space from the class A office building after the asset’s owner, Grubb & Ellis Realty Investors LLC, spent $2 million to upgrade the common areas and an additional $8 million in tenant improvements.

Andrew Smith, managing director of leasing with Thomas Properties Group’s Austin office says leasing in the CBD building has been relatively flat. He says predecessor Endeavor did a good job of bringing some tenants into 816 Congress, such as the Teachers Retirement System, which took about 47,000 square feet in early 2009. Furthermore, there is no unanticipated or major roll occurring in the 80% occupied building.

“We’ll get back the 17th floor, but we’re looking at that as an opportunity,” says Smith, who is working with Thomas Properties Group’s managing director of leasing Mark Miller on filling the vacancies. He goes on to say that the vacated space allows the ability to market 30,000 square feet of contiguous space. Furthermore, “the tenant in there was at well below a market rate, and this is a great chance to create some value,” Smith tells GlobeSt.com. The quoted ask ranges from $18 per square foot to $23 per square foot, with rates offered on a net basis.

Smith points out that tenants in the current economic downturn still want quality and best-in-class. Adding to 816 Congress’ appeal, he explains, is the fact that downtown Austin is becoming very much the urban lifestyle in terms of residential density which, in turn attracts retail, grocery and entertainment.

Tenants also want flexibility, and Smith acknowledges that Thomas Properties Group has a leg up in this area. The company is handling leasing for other class A CBD office buildings including the 548,823-square-foot One Congress Plaza; the 523,106-square-foot One American Center and the 459,085-square-foot 300 W. Sixth Street.

“We like to tell tenants they’ll never be able to outgrow us,” Smith comments. “We’ve been able to take one tenant whose needs have changed, and put him in a building across the street or down the street. In these times in which people are expanding, contracting, or changing, this is an important element.”

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