Park Center auction moved to Thursday

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 04:51 PM

The date of the auction of the Park Center nine-building office campus in the Research Triangle Park has been pushed back to Thursday.

The property on Park Office Drive had at one time housed tenants such as Lenovo, IBM Corp., and the research institute RTI International.

Now, according to marketing information from CBRE Auction Services on their website, Park Center is 10 percent leased.

It’s one of the areas in the Research Triangle Park that park leaders have targeted for redevelopment as part of the new master plan.

Park leaders launched the master planning process as part of a vision to make the business park appeal to a new generation of innovators.

Unveiled last year, the plan includes three proposed clusters of new high-density development.

Ben W. Kilgore IV, executive vice president of investment properties for CBRE in Raleigh who’s working with CBRE Auction Services staff in Chicago on the Park Center auction, said Park Center was originally envisioned to be the service center for the park.

It does not have the same restrictive research and development covenants as the rest of the park, he said.

However, he said, the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, the organization that’s in charge of managing the park, has a ground lease on the property. The foundation also has first right of refusal in the buying process.

Bob Geolas, president and CEO of the foundation, said the ground lease is “not insignificant,” and generates more than $500,000 a year for the foundation.

Geolas also said in the interview, held closer to the first auction date on June 6, that the foundation wants to work with the new owner of the land to develop a plan to build out the kind of space, amenities and environment consistent with the new vision for the park.

“Our point of view is that we would like to see someone come in, if it’s a successful individual group that comes in, and gets control of the assets on the property, that we’d love to partner with them to work with them and that (in a way) that’s consistent with where our new master plan’s going,” he said.

Geolas also said the “aging building stock” on the property now is “frankly not the future of our park.”

“For us to have more product that is going to be attractive to new companies, new technology companies, new innovative startups, we’ve got to have something that feels different than that,” he said.

Kilgore said the owner of the property, GE Asset Management, is looking to sell.

“What happens with it after the auction is, I don’t mean it to sound bad, but it’s somebody else’s obligation,” he said. “But (the new owner is) going to, in turn, have to be working with the foundation, because it will still be on a ground lease.”

At one time, Park Center housed tenants such as IBM, Lenovo and RTI International. Lenovo leased space there after acquiring IBM Corp.’s personal computer division in 2005, said Ray Gorman, a spokesman for the company.

All of the division employees were moved from IBM’s campus to leased space in Park Center, he said.

Once Lenovo made the decision to have the newly acquired operations of the division remain the Triangle, the company began planning a move into its own facilities, he said.

Occupancy began in early 2007 at a two-building campus in Morrisville, Gorman said. A third building was added to the campus in 2008.

Kilgore said the date for the sealed-bid auction was pushed back because some documentation was missing from the process and needed to be updated.