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MarchFirst Signs Lease for Santa Monica Office Space


Chicago-based Internet professional services company MarchFirst Inc. has signed a long-term lease to occupy Candle Corp.'s former offices at the Water Garden complex in eastern Santa Monica.

MarchFirst, created through the recent merger of Chicago-based Whittman-Hart and San Francisco-based USWeb/CKS, has already taken over computer connectivity specialist Candle's former corporate offices by way of a sublease after Candle relocated to a former Rockwell International engineering building in El Segundo. USWeb's local office had been housed at the nearby Santa Monica Business Park.

Representatives of publicly traded MarchFirst for months have been negotiating a lease with the Water Garden's ownership, headed by a real estate investment fund managed by J.P. Morgan Investment Management. The agreement for 150,000 square feet of offices on three floors commences in early 2002.

Financial details weren't disclosed, but Westside real estate sources estimated the deal's value at nearly $50 million, including allowances for customizing the offices.

Eastern Santa Monica, now often referred to as the professional and entertainment district, has seen strong demand from a variety of office tenants over the last few years.

Rents have shot upward as tenants have quickly filled new office buildings, including the Water Garden's 600,000-square-foot second phase now under construction, and two smaller buildings at the adjacent Arboretum complex.

The vast MGM Plaza complex nearby is in escrow to sell for a reported $360 million to $365 million, or $330 per square foot--ranking it among the top prices paid in recent years for a large Southland office property.

Colliers Seeley Co.'s Craig Meyer represented MarchFirst, while Trammell Crow Co.'s Lisa St. John headed the landlord's negotiating team.

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