Sunday, March 04, 2001

Industry notes: Commercial real estate

Large deals predominate recently

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Greater Cincinnati office market has shrugged off a lackluster quarter with a number of large transactions in recent weeks.

        Sara Lee Corp. announced last week that it will take an 80,000-square-foot space at Al Neyer Inc.'s Hawthorne Center in Blue Ash. The building, scheduled for a July opening, will be full after Al Neyer takes the fifth and final floor.

        South-Western Publishing has signed a deal with Duke-Weeks Realty to take 100,000 square feet at Duke-Weeks' 160,000- square-foot Deerfield Crossing. The move will eventually bring 500 jobs to Deerfield Township.

        HSR Business to Business signed a lease for a 38,000-square-foot space at Summit Woods in Sharonville, kicking off construction of that complex's second building.

        Another company, FirstGroup America, is considering an expansion at its Centennial I office location next to Cincinnati City Hall. Although no lease has been signed, the state of Ohio awarded FirstGroup America a 55 percent, seven-year tax credit last week for an expansion that will create 60 jobs and keep 51 jobs.

        But the big deals don't tell the whole story.

        Wayne Hach of Cincinnati Commercial Realtors said there have been fewer smaller deals ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet, which normally sustain Greater Cincinnati's office market.

        That could be a sign that smaller companies are staying put until the region's economy rebounds.

        The most significant deal is Sara Lee's move because it's a corporate relocation. Most office deals involve companies that want to move because of growth or other reasons.

        The Chicago-based consumer goods company is moving its U.S. Foods division to Blue Ash as part of a corporate reshuffling.

        The relocation adds 125 jobs to Blue Ash, and an additional 80 jobs will move from Sara Lee's Hillshire Farm & Kahn's operation on Spring Grove Avenue in Camp Washington.

        The state approved a 10-year, 60 percent tax credit for Sara Lee.

        The largest deal is South-Western Publishing's move to Deerfield Township.

        The college textbook publisher gained approval from Warren County and Deerfield Township for an enterprise zone tax exemption.

        The company will move to the new office this fall from its 300,000-square-foot office/warehouse at 5401 Madison Road. South-Western's broker, Jeff Carey of Carey-Laumer Commercial Realty, is selling the Madison Road building for the publishing firm. The complex should be available by the end of 2001.


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