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Consolidation, a Name, and a School

By Richard Metcalf
Of the Journal
    COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: CH2M Hill, an engineering, planning and consulting firm, will consolidate its two Albuquerque offices in Jefferson Plaza early next year.
    The firm's lease puts the 77,000-square-foot building, now in the final stage of construction, at 60 percent leased. Jefferson Plaza near Jefferson and Osuna NE landed its first tenant, PR Newswire, in March.
    CH2M Hill has about 40 employees at its Uptown office at 6001 Indian School NE. A CH2M subsidiary, Industrial Design Corp. or IDC, has about 45 employees housed in the Molina Healthcare Building off Alameda.
    Each of the two offices has just more than 10,000 square feet, with the leases expiring. Office consolidation in markets with multiple locations is a trend at CH2M to achieve better efficiency, said area manager Karl Hellermann.
    Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., CH2M has more than 100 offices and 12,000 employees across the country.
    CH2M tentatively plans to move into 22,000 square feet on the second floor of Jefferson Plaza in mid January. Class A or, at minimum B-plus, office space in that size range was difficult to find, Hellermann said.
    "Uptown didn't have anything with 20,000 square feet available, so that was out," he said. "Downtown had one (possibility). The Molina building had space and made the short list."
    As new construction, Jefferson Plaza was ultimately chosen. "That made it more convenient to be able to build out communications, electronics and offices," he said.
    Albuquerque-based Titan Development launched the $15 million project in April after signing up PR Newswire.
    Reid & Associates, a general contractor that specializes in fast-track commercial construction, broke ground for the building in early June. Less than seven months later, by Dec. 15, the building is expected to be ready.
    PR Newswire, a New York City-based business news service, is housed in about 14,000 square feet at the Journal Center. Since beginning operations early last spring, the office has grown to more than 100 employees, most hired locally.
    "We have been running extensive training sessions, including partnering with local organizations such as Newspapers in Education, to really introduce our staff members to the ins and outs of our business," said PR Newswire spokeswoman Rachel Moranus.
    The company is planning to relocate to 25,000 square feet on the first floor of Jefferson Plaza in early 2008.
    The asking lease rate for Jefferson Plaza is $18 a square foot— a dollar more than it was early last spring— on what's been called a managed triple net lease.
    The tenant pays the base lease rate, plus direct or pro-rated expenses such as utilities and taxes. Each tenant's space is individually metered.
    The arrangement is popular with a lot of companies, said leasing agent Scott Throckmorton of Argus Investment Realty. "The benefit is they are billed directly for their utility consumption," he said.
    The building still has 11,000 square feet available on the first floor and 17,000 square feet available on the second. The parking ratio is five spaces for every 1,000 square feet in the building.
    REBRANDING TO "JEFFERSON ROW": A prominent architectural firm's former office has been purchased by local investors, rebranded "Jefferson Row" and divided into for-sale condominiums.
    The 30,000-square-foot property at 6801 Jefferson NE consists of three connected one-story buildings. A 20-foot-high clerestory runs the length of the three buildings, forming glass-enclosed common areas between them.
    "It's open with a ton of light— a very happy environment," said Karen Hudson, who is marketing the condos with associate Dave Hill of Maestas & Ward Commercial Real Estate.
    Designed by the Dekker Perich Sabatini firm and built by R. Davis Cos. in 1997, the property was purchased recently by a group of local investors. The asking price was $4.8 million.
    The 8,200-square-foot building closest to Jefferson was purchased by a local company that isn't ready to announce its planned move, Hudson said.
    The middle building is being marketed as two office condos, each 5,750 square feet and priced at $1.3 million.
    The westernmost 8,800-square-foot building is priced at $1,980,000.
    CAMPUS FOR SALE: The 12,000-square-foot campus of Trinity Southwest University is for sale on Constitution NE, just east of Eubank on the edge of a residential area.
    A private adult education seminary in Albuquerque since 1990, Trinity offers primarily master's and doctoral degrees in Bible-based studies. At any given time, about 400 people are taking courses, mostly on a distance-learning basis, said executive dean Steven Collins.
    "Our average student is in their 40s, looking for the degree they never finished," he said. "They aren't doing this to find a job, but to enhance their skill sets."
    Trinity has been at 10110 Constitution NE, traditionally a church site, since 1996. Its Museum of Archaeology and Biblical History occupies what was once the sanctuary.
    The property is being marketed at an asking price of $1,490,000 by John Casburn of Coldwell Banker Commercial. If the school gets an acceptable offer, Collins said, it would likely relocate within the Northeast Heights.

Richard Metcalf covers commercial real estate for the Journal. You can reach him at 823-3972 or rmetcalf@abqjournal.com.