Molina Healthcare’s consolidation of back-office operations Downtown, enabled by a California investment firm’s purchase of a seven-story office building, was one of three deals whose back stories were described Monday at a luncheon meeting of NAIOP, the commercial real-estate development group.
Broadly hailed as a major stepping stone in Downtown’s revitalization, Molina’s consolidation from two offices in the North I-25 submarket brought about 800 workers to 400 Tijeras NW, a 420,589-square-foot office building long associated with telephone giant US West, successor Qwest and now CenturyLink.
Once a hive of activity housing 1,000 workers and what is believed to have been New Mexico’s first call center, CenturyLink’s presence had shrunk to about one-third of the building due to technology and a changing business model, said Tom Jenkins of commercial real-estate services firm CBRE.
“There were as many servers in the building as they had staff,” he said.
Molina’s move was tied to the purchase of the building by Omninet Capital of Los Angeles, which had a prior business relationship with Long Beach, Calif.-based Molina, Jenkins said. Now, the newly branded Century Plaza, formerly Plaza Campagna, is undergoing about $12 million in upgrades by the new owner.
Built in 1981 with only 50 on-site parking spaces — a need now met by off-site parking structures — the building is now about 80 percent leased. The seventh floor, just under 60,000 square feet, is available for a “prestige tenant,” and a three-restaurant food court is planned in 8,777 square feet on the ground floor, Jenkins said.
Jenkins was one of seven speakers presenting an annual overview of the two mainstays of commercial real estate, the office and industrial property types, by the 20-member New Mexico chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors.
Also highlighted were United Poly Systems, a plastic pipemaker that leased about 60,000 square feet, presented by CBRE’s Jim Smith; and the emergence of Flagship Foods as a major player both in the economy and industrial real-estate market, presented by Keith Meyer of NAI Maestas & Ward.
The overview generally portrayed fairly lackluster office and industrial markets, both of which pose problems of limited existing inventory for companies contemplating a possible move to the metro.
Other speakers were Tim MacEachen of Rio Real Estate, Scott Throckmorton of Argus Investment Realty and Tim With of Colliers International. The moderator was Dan Newman of CBRE.