Sunday, March 23, 2003

Industry notes: Commercial real estate

Law firm to remain downtown

By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The downtown law firm Kohnen & Patton LLP will relocate from Carew Tower to a 21,000-square-foot space at PNC Center on East Fifth Street.

The firm and its staff of 29 attorneys and 36 support workers had its pick of suburban and downtown locations but ultimately chose to sublease part of the seventh floor and all of the eighth floor vacated by PNC Bank.

"We thought it was important to stay downtown," partner Andy Patton said. "We still think it's the commercial and banking center of the region."

The Kohnen & Patton deal marks the second major law firm committing to a downtown location in recent weeks. Squire Sanders & Dempsey LLP recently signed a lease that will more than double its space at Scripps Center, 312 Walnut St.

By July 1, Kohnen & Patton expects to move into its new office, which will have enough room for the firm to add six lawyers and five support workers.

The firm's civil practice includes an emphasis on transactional law, acquisitions, estate planning, probate work and litigation, and its roster of clients includes Provident Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Huntington Bank and Skyline Chili.

Swann Fredrickson of Cresa Partners represented Kohnen & Patton; Wayne Hach is the listing agent for PNC Center.

LandBank likes site of American Laundry

Adding almost 250,000 square feet of office space in a market flooded with empty space doesn't seem to be the most timely move.

But Lakewood, Colo.-based The LandBank Group Inc. thinks it has the right location and look with its acquisition of the American Laundry headquarters at Section and Ross avenues in Norwood.

LandBank will team with Neyer Properties to redevelop the 8.5-acre site with a flex office complex that will consist of two new 100,000-square-foot Class B buildings and a 45,000-square-foot renovation of an existing brick-covered office. American Laundry's factory would be demolished, and the total project would cost $10 million to $15 million.

"We have the same recurring theme - buy environmentally (challenging) assets that are otherwise great real estate," said Bill Lynott, president of LandBank Group.

Lynott acknowledges it will be difficult to lure office tenants in such a competitive market, but he says two potential users are interested in the existing office building's unique look and access to the Norwood Lateral.

Developers are even considering other touches with a restaurant or pub decorated with factory artifacts such as a smoke stack and power generator, said Andy Radin, Neyer's vice president of real estate. The project could find competition with Al Neyer Inc.'s renovation of the abutting General Motors lot bounded by Carthage and Ross avenues and the Norwood Lateral.

Al Neyer originally planned a $35 million medical office complex and retail center anchored by Kroger. But the developer and the city of Norwood lost a bid for a $3 million Clean Ohio Fund grant from the state of Ohio, and negotiations to lure the prestigious Mayfield Clinic & Spine Institute failed. The developer also says its effort to purchase an adjoining triangular building - a historic structure city leaders wanted saved and relocated as part of the development - has been unsuccessful.

Kroger still is interested in developing a large store there, and now Al Neyer plans a smaller, 30,000-square-foot speculative office. Several other office projects are planned for Norwood, including Ackermann Group's Cornerstone, Anderson Real Estate's $125 million Rookwood Exchange and Belvedere Corp.'s renovation of the Contractor's Warehouse building at the Central Parke office and retail complex.

Corporex offers consulting service

In an effort to drum up business, Corporex Cos. has launched a consulting service for prospective office tenants.

The Covington-based developer and property manager's "Just in Time" service offers advice on space evaluation, design and tax incentives - services traditionally performed by real estate brokers who specialize in representing tenants.

Tom Banta, executive vice president overseeing office leasing for Corporex, said the program targets "those who should start thinking about their space needs before their current lease runs out." The idea is to establish relationships with prospective office tenants before the leasing process starts, Banta said.

Ken Alltucker covers commercial real estate for the Enquirer. Have news? Call him at (513) 768-8384, e-mail or fax 768-8340.

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