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Published: 6/15/2005

Office space at Levis Commons still empty

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
One tenant has rented offices in the area above the shopping center's stores but has yet to move in. One tenant has rented offices in the area above the shopping center's stores but has yet to move in.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

In sharp contrast to the heralded success of the stores there, the office space at the Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg has been empty since it opened eight months ago.

The reasons range from high rent to the second-floor sites' possible inconvenience.

Still, local commercial real estate experts expect the space to attract tenants, at least in part because the Toledo suburbs have little other prime office quarters.

Mike Poulos, a principal at CB Richard Ellis/Reichle Klein in Maumee, said no clients have requested space in the offices above the stores in Levis Commons.

"Is there going to be a demand for it? It's a question that has yet to be answered, quite frankly," he said.

The development, an outdoor shopping center resembling a downtown street scene, has office space on the floor above many of the stores.

Last month it landed its first office tenant.

Progressive Insurance Inc., which is to begin moving in this month, is renting nearly 17,000 square feet of the available 68,000 square feet of offices at Levis Commons.

That contract marks another step toward achieving the project's goal of housing, retail, and work sites in one somewhat self-sustaining area.

The insurance company from Mayfield, Ohio, is moving a claims office in Maumee and plans to create a spot for its legal staff in project off of State Rte. 25 just south of the I-475/U.S. 23 interchange.

The new office will have about 90 employees, a spokesman said.

Although Levis Commons has about 90 percent of its store space leased or occupied, it has struggled to fill its office space.

"It's certainly not for everybody, but there's a lot of busi-nesses that can benefit from this space," said Charlene Scott, a general manager at Levis Commons.

Commercial retail experts say the office rent there is $22 a square foot per year, the most expensive in the suburban Toledo.

By comparison, at Arrowhead Park in Maumee and Commerce Drive in Perrysburg, among the nearest rivals, office rent is $18.50 to $19 a square foot, experts said.

say the office rent there is $22 a square foot per year, the most expensive in the suburban Toledo. By comparison, at Arrowhead Park in Maumee and Commerce Drive in Perrysburg, among the nearest rivals, office rent is $18.50 to $19 a square foot, experts said.

Suburban office rents have held steady for nearly five years, but now may go up, said Mr. Poulos of CB Richard Ellis.

"Occupancy is up, and the cost of new construction will drive those numbers even higher," he said.

Markus Rasmus, a commercial sales associate at Michael Realty Co. in Toledo, said Levis Commons is a picturesque setting but has drawbacks.

"For simple convenience's sake, some tenants just want to be on the first floor," he said.

Also, the perception exists that parking might be a problem for office tenants during the holidays when the retailers are swarmed by shoppers, experts said.

And it's harder for an office site to have its own identity when mixed in among the stores, they said.

But, Levis Commons has few competitors. Mr. Poulos said he represented Progressive Insurance in the Perrysburg leasing deal and the decision to move there was aided by a lack of other available locations.

"What it all boiled down to is they needed approximately 17,000 feet of contiguous office space," he explained. "There are very few choices in the suburban office market for that."

In suburban metro Toledo, he said, there are only six buildings with 10,000 square feet or more of available prime office space.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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