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MIAMI-Putting a company’s name or logo atop a prominent office building is the next best thing to branding rights on a sports stadium. Now it appears those opportunities will be plentiful this year within Florida’s largest commercial real estate market.

No less than five signature landmark office properties in Miami will have building signage rights available for the first time in decades, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Such invaluable significant branding opportunities may prove to be the determining factor as to where many large tenants execute leases, the brokerage states in its latest research report on the Miami office market.

The tangible value on naming rights to office buildings is difficult to pin down lately, with asking rents falling to as low as $30 per square foot overall but just below $47 per square foot in Miami’s central business district. Local office brokers say marquee tenants can work out those details as part of a new large lease for little or nothing beyond the agreed-upon rent.

“For the right building, it can be great to have a signature tenant taking a big block of space,” Bill Cutler, senior vice president with Colliers Abood Wood-Fay in Coral Gables, tells GlobeSt.com. “It puts your building in a different limelight.”

Names on office towers not only figure prominently in corporate brand building, especially for financial institutions and law firms, but in Miami’s case they can serve as a form of national advertising. Consider the number of televised sporting events featuring local skyline shots, and even brief appearances as background scenery on popular programs such as “CSI: Miami” or “Burn Notice.”

One of Miami’s best-recognized office structures, Miami Tower, is seeking a new name after Charlotte-based Bank of America consolidated its local operations into another Brickell Avenue building bearing its name. The owner of the 47-story building, Atlanta-based Wealth Capital Investments, is willing to deal on the property formerly known as Bank of America Tower at International Place.

“There’s no question that Miami Tower’s worldwide exposure has a direct, positive impact on our leasing efforts,” says Tony Puente, senior vice president with Coral Gables-based Fairchild Partners, which handles the building’s leasing and marketing. “Tenants are drawn to the idea that they can locate their business in a landmark office building located at the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic cities.”

Some of the names currently emblazoned on other buildings overlooking Biscayne Bay are moving in the coming year. For example, locally based law powerhouse Greenberg Traurig LLC is moving its signage to the new Met 2 Financial Center from 1221 Brickell Ave.

However, any company seeking a sweet deal on asset branding, whether top-story signage or the actual name of the building, is advised to move quickly. Brokers point out that even though two million square feet of space is opening in the Miami office market this year, no more construction is expected for a long while as weak market fundamentals have halted many planned projects.

“While the pendulum remains solidly on the tenant’s side entering 2010, look for rental rate stabilization to begin in the second half,” advises Diana Parker, director of office brokerage with Cushman & Wakefield in Miami. The brokerage also notes that the market’s overall vacancy rate of 17% is its highest in six years.

Colliers’ Cutler observes that office building naming rights are a bargain relative to the $40 million that Toronto-based Sun Life Financial paid to rebrand Miami Lakes’ stadium just before Super Bowl XLIV. “For a firm seeking greater brand identity,” he says, “I don’t know of a better way than stamping your name on a building.”

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