New Office Building Planned for Durham, N.C.

Jul. 21--Tri Properties plans to break ground this fall on a new office building at Imperial Center in Durham. And it's not waiting for space commitments to get started.

The 120,000-square-foot Carlisle Place is the second speculative office building near Research Triangle Park to be announced in as many weeks. And it's the latest sign the Triangle office market has recovered from the tech fallout.

Duke Realty said last week it would begin on a 204,000-square-foot building in September at Perimeter Park, just over the Wake County line in Morrisville.

"There's a steady amount of opportunities from ... [companies] wanting to grow from within and from some wanting to grow from outside" the Triangle, said Greg Sanchez, president of Durham-based Tri Properties, which manages 1.3 million square feet of offices at Imperial.

Carlisle, to be built at Slater Road and Emperor Boulevard, will be Imperial's first office construction since 2002.

The office market that supports RTP suffered after many tech companies imploded in the early 2000s.

The market has since tightened as companies grow and as new businesses move to the area.

About 13.4 percent of the 8.4 million square feet of rentable offices in and around RTP were empty at the end of June, down from 19.8 percent a year ago, according to Highwoods Properties market data. The regional office vacancy rate was 12.9 percent at the end of June, down from 14.2 percent in June 2005.

The market is expected to tighten still, and developers are preparing for another building boom. Duke and Tri Properties have been the most aggressive in trying to tap the demand.

They are almost certain to compete for tenants. But neither seem worried. "There's more than enough business," said Andrew Kelton, a Duke senior vice president. "We're both bullish."

Duke also filed plans this month to build two 105,000-square-foot office buildings at Perimeter, but the company plans to find tenants first. And the Indianapolis real-estate investment trust is trying to rezone 149 acres adjacent to Perimeter. If successful, it could eventually build up to 1.5 million square feet of offices on the site. The company doesn't own the land yet, but has it under contract and will decide whether to buy it this year.

Meanwhile, Tri Properties is awaiting site plan approval to begin the four-story Carlisle Place.

It also plans to break ground on a 100,000-square-foot speculative office building at Palladian Corporate Center in Durham, near the Chapel Hill line.

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