TROSA heading to Foster St.; High Strung move redux
Rue Cler: Bakery/cafe, restaurant... and wine bar?

AT & Durham Centre: Lease is more

Looks like CB Richard Ellis is now handling leasing duties for some of the new American Tobacco buildings coming online; their banner was flying high from Diamond View I during last week's Diamond View II kick-off, and their April property report lists availability and net lease rates for several buildings in the complex. (Colliers Pinkard, whose signs formerly graced the AT campus, still lists space for lease in the Noell and Old Bull buildings on their web site.)

Since CBRE also handles the Durham Centre tower in downtown, a glance at their April property report reveals some interesting facts:

Diamondviewmain Diamond View I is fully leased at the asking price of $23.50/sq. ft. (Commercial real estate is priced on an annual basis at this rate, net of tenant improvements or concessions.)  Diamond View II, on the other hand, lists about 93,000 sq. ft. of space available for lease out of roughly 162,000 sq. ft. available, at a price $26.95 per sq. ft., which would make it one of if not the priciest Class A office space currently available for lease anywhere in Durham. (By comparison, space is leasing at South Square and Meridian Park off NC 55 for an asking price of around $20.00/sq. ft.). Diamond View II's availability date is listed by CBRE as "1st quarter 2008."

The Diamond View III property immediately adjacent to it is listed as "proposed," with a scheduled delivery date of fourth quarter 2008. 120,000 sq. ft. are listed as available, again at a $26.95/sq. rate. (One would presume that the greenlight for this depends on how fast Diamond View II leases up.)

Durhamcentre By comparison, Franklin Wittenberg's Durham Centre in downtown is leasing at a much lower rate of $17.50/sq. ft., with a whopping 83,000 sq. ft. available out of the 223,000 sq. ft. skyscraper. Pause on that for a second: the Durham Centre has almost as much space available as what looks to have been pre-leased at Diamond View II before its construction, despite DV2's 50% higher lease rate. Yet the Durham Centre is a fully-online and relatively modern facility while DV2 won't even be available for almost a year.

Which speaks volumes about the attractiveness of the space that has been created with the American Tobacco project. Smart urban development, with pedestrian connections and integrated restaurants and entertainment activities, aren't just the provence of urban planners or city leaders. They're the spaces where real, live, profit-maximizing businesses want to locate.

There's a lesson here for anyone who loves the Bull City. The skyscraper on the ugly, horrible Downtown Loop is not a model we want to repeat as we size up downtown anew. It's a reminder that we have to think more innovatively about what downtown can become, and what everyone -- residents, businesses, government stakeholders -- want from our urban core.

A few more AT tidbits from the CBRE report (see this property map to put pictures to names):

  • The Power Plant facility at the center of the complex, which is under renovation, is listed as a "1st quarter 2008" completion with space available at $23.50/sq. ft.
  • The Crowe and Strickland buildings look to be fully leased save for ground floor/basement spaces. "Great space for critical facility or data center," CBRE writes. (Indeed, hard to picture other uses for windowless basements!) It should be noted that lease rates for same are "negotiable."
  • The Fowler building, the newest of the 'historic' AT buildings and the space where Glaxo and Compuware have leased space, has about 25% vacancy at present, all in one run of 38,770 contiguous feet across two floors.
  • Some space remains available in the Washington and Reed buildings from Phase I, while the Hill building (home to Motricity) is fully leased.



Wait - you mean people would rather work in a beautiful, mixed-use area than inside a sterile office tower on top of a parking deck? Crazy. Wouldn't they rather have magnificient views of the Measurement Inc. parking lots instead of the DBAP?

Dave S.

Are you referring to the South Square office space that is official called "South Square", by the China Buffet and the soon-to-be re-developed old Kroger center? (I used to work there once upon a time). Or do you mean University Tower (former home of much of Duke OIT)? In any event, I'm sure University Tower is lovely inside, but I've never understood who the heck thought it was good idea to stick a skyscraper by itself right there. You can be driving around the lovely rustic area between Durham and Orange County near Erwin Road and the view is assaulted by that lone monstrosity. At least the Durham Centre was built downtown. :)

Michael Bacon

Some day, I'm going to make a lot of money by buying the Durham Centre, spending a little bit on putting an actual entryway into the place from the street, turning a very small portion of the parking deck into retail stalls, and convincing the city to two-way Morgan St.

Some day...

Kevin Davis

Dave: Yeah, I'm talking generally of the low/mid-rise office buildings over behind that old Kroger shopping center. Not University Tower, which has challenges all of its own right. I've had the same experience driving Erwin Road near the Mt. Moriah church... you see this lone tower on the skyline and think aliens have landed. The view from the top floor of the tower looking out on the Bull City are pretty sweet, though.

Michael: The thing I hate about the tower-over-parking with no setback is, you'd pretty much have to raise Morgan Street 30 feet to accomplish the first goal, or narrow the loop by a couple of lanes of traffic. :( Whose idea of good design was this beast, anyhow?

Randell F Busby

Franklin Wittenberg was an arrogant, manipulative, and abusive man. His building embodies all that he was: unconcerned for the comfort or opinions of others and disinterested in anything that did not comport with his obsession for control and power.

He was an evil man. And his blight of a building reflects that fact.

Once he was finished sucking resources out of the community, he promptly left, leaving nothing but monstrosities like this behind. I'm told that, including paid pall-bearers, 13 people attended his funeral a few months ago in Palm Beach. How's THAT for a legacy?

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