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Friday April 25, 2014
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The Kings of Commercial



Gone are the shelves of books and magazines from the old Borders flagship store, and gone with them are the walls, floors, and windows. The 44,000-square-foot space was made up of four separate but contiguous buildings, three fronting Liberty and another fronting Maynard, now housing Barracuda Networks. The remainder of the first floor is now gutted, and workers are installing huge new windows on both floors.

"It's one of the two big things we're working on now," says Jim Chaconas, a solidly built man with thick black-gone-to-silver hair and a prominent mustache. "First is Borders headquarters [which sold for $6 million earlier this year]. We've got two large tenants we're working on for that. Second is the old Borders store. We've got the deal on the upstairs done, and we'll probably have the downstairs leased by December."

"This building is the key to Liberty," says Brendan Cavender, Chaconas's youthful right-hand man at the local Colliers International office, "and we're not going to be dependent on any one tenant. The downstairs will have five storefronts on Liberty and two on Maynard. Upstairs is going for $24 per square foot. Street level is going for $45 per square foot, more for the corner space, and $10 per square foot downstairs--and a lot of tenants are interested in putting in staircases and elevators for a kitchen or bar downstairs."

Tenants so far include the U-M, two restaurants--the Slurping Turtle and the Knight family's as-yet-unnamed new venture (see Marketplace Changes, p. 45)--and global marketing firm PRIME Research.

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