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Phase V of Town Center grows bigger

Updated: August 7, 2013 - 8:34 pm

Posted: August 2, 2013

By Lydia Wheeler

lydia.wheeler@insidebiz.com

With a year to go before opening, seven floors of Town Center's newest tower have been poured.

The building's anchor tenant, Clark Nexsen, will occupy three-and-a-half floors of the 15-story tower, located at the corner of Main and Columbus streets, expected to open August 2014.

Louis Haddad, president and CEO of Armada Hoffler, the developer of Town Center, said the Norfolk-based international architecture and engineering firm will have half of the 11th floor and all of the 12th, 13th and 14th floors - 83,000 square feet - for its new headquarters location.

"It crept up slightly," he said. "They were looking at 80,000 square feet."

The Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, the only other tenant announced so far, will take over the seventh floor and pay a rental rate of $28.50 a square foot, according to the development agreement. Haddad said he could not release the names of other tenants.

"We're in talks with a number of people," he said. "I hope to have good things to announce by the end of the quarter."

Town Center's exclusive listing agent, Divaris Real Estate Inc., also had little to announce.

"We have a couple of prospects looking on a floor-by-floor basis," company President Michael Divaris said about office space. "On the retail side, we've had a lot of interest from the ICSC show in Los Vegas."

The real estate firm attended the Global Retail Real Estate Convention held by the International Council of Shopping Centers in May.

There is 27,000 square feet of retail space available and Divaris said the firm is in negotiations on every space.

Armada Hoffler will spend a total of $83.2 million on this phase of the project, more than $12 million over the figure first presented to city council in 2012.

"We made it bigger," Haddad said of Phase V, now 18.6 percent complete. "We added several apartments, another floor of office space and another deck of parking."

When finished, there will be 286 apartments surrounding the tower and 950 parking spaces. The city is funding the parking garage, estimated at $18 million.

Construction is on schedule and thanks to good weather, Haddad said, going very well. A total of 450 construction workers will be employed on the project.

Clark Nexsen will be first to move into its new offices next August, followed by the economic development department in late August or early September.

"We'll probably commit to a weekend, so that we'll shut down connectivity with city hall at 5 p.m. on a Friday and plan for a weekend move," said Warren Harris, the city's economic development director. "That's the thought."

While the city's economic development department has yet to figure out how to transition its staff of 19 out of the 222 Central Park Ave. building, Hampton University College of Virginia Beach is already working on moving in. The commuter college has started converting part of the 10th floor of 222 Central Park vacated by the city's Strategic Growth Area Department, into new classroom space for the fall semester.

The Hampton University branch, now on the 10th floor of 253 Town Center Drive, needs the 10th floor of 222 Central Park Ave. to accommodate additional programs.

"We're working with deans on the main campus and adding new majors in hotel management and criminal justice," said John Waddell, college director. "We hope to open the hotel management and criminal justice programs this academic year."

The college is also looking at offering engineering courses in 2014. To connect the old space with the new, Waddell said the college is building a 1,066-square-foot covered skywalk between the 10th floor of 253 Town Center Drive and the 10th floor of 222 Central Park Ave. When the economic development department moves, the 10th floor of 222 Central Park Ave. will be converted into two high-tech classrooms, a clinical nursing skills lab, a large student lounge, three study rooms and a supply area. Waddell would not disclose Hampton University's total investment on the project.

Clark Nexsen, which has been in its current space in Kempsville Circle since 1988, is looking forward to moving its corporate headquarters and 350 employees just two exits down Interstate 264.

"We occupy approximately 80,000 square feet at our current location," said Chris Stone, company president. "Moving into a new location will afford us the opportunity to realign our office spaces, making them more efficient and collaborative." nib