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[IMGCAP(1)]SAN DIEGO-A law firm here has expanded by 25,000 square feet of office space and the Department of Homeland Security has added 19,783 square feet, a healthcare firm in Texas has added 24,000 square feet and a high-tech firm in Oregon has grown by 23,000 square feet as a few notable office tenants are expanding these days despite the generally sluggish state of office leasing. The deals are more noteworthy today than they would have been a few years ago because, brokers say, expansions are the exception; they say the action lately remains mainly in renewals, and most renewals are for the same amount of space or sometimes less.

In the 25,000-square-foot law firm expansion, the San Diego based law firm of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch has signed a lease for 100,000 square feet of office space at 525 B. St. in a building owned by Hines. The law firm, which is scheduled to relocate to the Hines building in May 2010 after more than 40 years at 530 B St., says that the decision to relocate to 525 B St. was also due in part to Hines’ commitment to sustainability and its pursuit of LEED certification, which the building is expected to attain by year end.

[IMGCAP(2)]In the Homeland Security expansion, the US government agency has signed a five-year lease renewal and expansion totaling 44,760 square feet at 610 West Ash St., a class A office tower in Downtown San Diego, according to Cushman & Wakefield. “Even in today’s challenging economy, 610 West Ash is one of the most highly occupied office buildings in the Downtown area,” notes associate director Pascal Aubry-Dumand of Cushman & Wakefield, who represented building owner Glenborough Realty along with Ron Miller of CresaPartners.

[IMGCAP(3)]Not surprisingly, a number of the expansions lately have been in the medical office and healthcare-related fields, which continue to perform relatively well in comparison to the general office category. For example, in Las Colinas, TX, Health Management Systems has expanded by 24,323 square feet at Corporate Point at Las Colinas. The company, which has signed for the expansion two years after leasing 59,426 square feet at the Corporate Point project, will expand into its new space on the eighth floor in November 2009. The property is a 10-story, 223,498-square-foot building at 5615 High Point Dr.

Another tenant category that is responsible for a number of expansions is the high-tech industry. In Beaverton, OR, digital audio specialist Biamp Systems, has inked an 11-year lease for 71,000 square feet of headquarters office space at Nimbus Corporate Center at 9300 SW Gemini Dr. In addition to an expansion, the lease represents an upgrade for Biamp, which will be relocating to the new office space from 48,000 square feet of industrial space, some of it at 10074 SW Arctic Dr., also in Beaverton. Biamp supplies and installs audio management systems for corporate boardrooms, conference centers, performing arts venues, courtrooms, churches, educational campuses and recreational facilities, among others.

Other firms adding space in recent weeks include the law firm of Gordon & Rees, in Denver, which is expanding by 5,000 square feet in a 19,127-square-foot lease at 555 17th St. in Denver. The firm is migrating from 370 17th St., where it was housed in about 14,000 square feet. In Schaumburg, IL, Financial Management Systems has expanded into 25,000 square feet at 1000 E. Woodfield Rd. The firm was previously located in 22,000 square feet, and extended its lease through late 2014 at the same time as it increased its space on the building’s first floor by 3,000 square feet.

In light of the recession and weakening office markets throughout the US, brokers say that a lease need not be an expansion to be notable and strike a positive chord. Large renewals like those of Bank of New York Mellon and the law firm of Sullivan & Worcester, both in Boston, can also provide a lift for the market. Mellon is staying in its 20 floors of One Boston Pl., signing a long-term renewal for almost half of the 800,000-square-foot class A office tower. The trophy building–also known as the BNY Mellon Center–is 41 floors totaling 800,000 square feet. Mellon’s total square footage comes in at 362,293 square feet. The lease is a five-year extension of Mellon’s current lease, which wasn’t set to expire until 2013.

Sullivan & Worcester, which is based in Boston, is renewing its 115,265-square-foot lease at One Post Office Square. The law firm, which has been at the property since 1982, is signing on for a long-term lease at the 41-story, 830,000-square-foot class A CBD property, jumping on an early extension of a deal which was set to expire in 2011.

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