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Hamilton Landing is flying high

With a spate of late fourth quarter leasing activity, including deals with Birkenstock and a division of Take-Two Interactive Software, the 286,000-square-foot former Hamilton Army Air Field in Novato is now 95 percent occupied.

Take Two Interactive took 65,000 square feet in Hangar 10, and Birkenstock Distribution USA will occupy 15,000 square feet in Hangar 5, said Michael Barker, managing director of Barker Pacific Group, the project's developer.

"We had a very, very active 2006," said Barker.

With near-full occupancy, rents at Hamilton Landing are beginning to pop. They are now in the $30-$35 range, about a 20 percent increase from 2003. And rates are unlikely to stay where they are for long.

"We're on the verge of some further increases no matter what we do," said Barker.

The Take-Two unit moving into the historic Air Force hanger is Visual Concepts Entertainment, a former division of Sega of America that Take-Two bought in January 2005. Barker said Hamilton Landing, with 35-foot ceilings and super-efficient under-floor electrical and HVAC, makes a lot of sense for gaming companies looking for a casual, flexible environment.

"It's cool and vibrant. You get these tall ceilings and indirect light. It's well-designed for creative computer software and digital entertainment," he said.

The developer still has two more 65,000-square-foot hangars to convert to Class A office space, one of which will likely hit the market this year. There is also a site on the 22-acre campus fully entitled for a 68,000-square-foot building. Barker Pacific Group doesn't plan to break ground without a tenant in hand.

With the string of new leases, Hamilton Landing is now home to 37 businesses. In addition to Birkenstock, the landlord has closed deals with Sony ImageWorks, Oracle, Smith & Hawken, and Dynamic Fund Management. Brokers Brian Eisberg, Haden Ongaro and Mark Carrington of Orion Partners Ltd. represent the property owner.

Hamilton Landing was not the only Novato office property seeing action in late 2006. BioMarin Pharmaceutical has expanded its Novato footprint with a 85,000-square-foot deal at 300 Bel Marin Keys Blvd. BioMarin leased the two-story building from Paul Sade and Eleanor Sade Trust. BioMarin plans to occupy the new building by May 2007.

Whitney Strotz, who represented the tenant with Mark Maguire, said the deal "allows (BioMarin) room for growth while being within walking distance to their existing facilities."

Strotz said the northern portion of Marin -- Novato and San Rafael -- are typically the last part of the county to fill up during upswings.

"Novato had a really strong fourth quarter," said Strotz.

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