Duke Realty: Building on success

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When Atlanta#s leading personal injury lawyer needed new office space, who did he choose to represent him? Duke Realty Corporation and Duke Construction, of course.

Currently under construction, Gary Martin Hays & Associate#s new, almost 20,000-square-foot office building will incorporate the latest in design and technology, including a realistic mock courtroom.

But that#s not the only site under construction for Duke Realty. They#re currently working on an 80,000-square-foot, three-story business park at Sugarloaf that should be completed the middle of this year.

#We felt the timing was right for this building, along with the location. This will be the first of two parks on site, adjoining a lake,# said Kerry Armstrong, senior vice president of Duke Realty#s Atlanta Office Group.

Currently on the horizon for Gwinnett is another build-to-suit space for a medical group, also on Sugarloaf, that#s in the final stages of design, according to Armstrong. They just completed a more than 30,000-square-foot office facility for Wolverton & Associates (a full-service civil engineering and surveying firm) located in the Business Park at Sugarloaf.

For Duke Realty#s Gwinnett office, large projects like these are the rule, not the exception. As the regional headquarters for the company#s southern market operations that include Dallas, Raleigh, Tampa, Orlando and South Florida, buying, selling and building is a daily process. To break it down even more locally, Duke Realty has 15 parks in Gwinnett, with about 1.5 million square feet of office space; 5.8 million square feet of industrial space and 92 acres of land for future development. Duke#s 125 Atlanta employees are in charge of managing all that real estate.

In the past five years, Duke Realty#s Atlanta office has become a force in commercial real estate. Nationally, Duke Realty is the largest publicly traded office and industrial real estate company in the United States, generating approximately $800 million in annual revenue from more than 4,200 tenants from its 13 geographic platforms across the Midwest and the Sunbelt.

Five years ago, Duke Realty came to Atlanta through a merger with Weeks Corporation.

#When we merged, Duke#s corporate headquarters were in Indianapolis. They kept the main office there and made Atlanta the regional office,# said Armstrong, who was originally with Weeks and stayed on through the merger. #The two companies felt like they needed to have a presence in broader market areas. Combined, the companies gained the kind of market coverage that gives considerable strength,# said Armstrong.

Recently, Duke Realty sold eight buildings in Gwinnett Park, prompting questions about their desire to stay in Gwinnett.

#For our purposes, the asset had not matured. We#re continually in the process of taking mature assets and deploying them. We#re not exiting the Gwinnett market; we simply had an opportunity to realize the value of that asset and redeploy those funds elsewhere. We#re very bullish on Gwinnett,# said Armstrong.