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How virtual reality is changing the leasing game at Plano's Legacy West

June 22, 2016

The lush green landscaping gives way to a reflecting pool fronting a 14-story office building that sits starkly on the horizon, the reflection barely caught in the rippling water.

As I turn my head, I'm transported to one of the uppermost office floors and quickly try to take in my new surroundings. In my haste, the 15-foot floor-to-ceiling windows seemingly melt away and, with nothing underfoot, the reporter that is both afraid and yet thrilled of heights lets out a squeal.

It takes a few minutes, but once acquainted with the virtual reality system I'm able to tour the amenity deck, office floors and reception areas of the not-yet-completed One Legacy West office building.

"The more you use it, the more you understand what the building will look like once its done," Belinda Dabliz, vice president of leasing for Dallas-based Gaedeke Group, told the Dallas Business Journal.

The virtual reality system is worn by commercial real estate brokers and prospective tenants looking at One Legacy West, a 14-story, 307,767-square-foot high-end office building at 7950 Legacy Drive in Plano. And, so far, the results have changed the leasing game, said Dabliz, who is overseeing the leasing efforts of One Legacy West.

"Some people like to visualize what an office will look at in the space and you can turn around and see it," she told me. "We've had brokers and prospects that love it so much that they take it home over the weekend to show their families."

The office tower, which sits next to Toyota North America's headquarters at the Sam Rayburn Tollway and Legacy Drive, is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year. The virtual reality system lets company executives see the luxury finishes within the high-end building, such as the all-marble lobby or the fireplaces within the amenity deck.

The system was created by Boston-based Neoscape, which also created a video for would-be tenants. Morrison Dilworth +Walls is the building architect.

Dabliz said this gives her an effective tool to add to her leasing arsenal, which also includes a newly created smartphone app, a video of the high-resolution renderings and hard-hat tours.

By offering executives the ability to envision a space before it's even built, Dabliz said she gets a jump on leasing activity. It simply makes her job easier, she said. "All the same leasing tools still apply, but this is now one more tool we can use and people can move around and really see it," she said. "They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a virtual reality system is like an encyclopedia."

Even though the six-story garage and the office building are still being completed, the virtual reality system helps them see the amenity level on the second floor for office tenants, which include conferencing areas, ping pong tables, fireplaces, fitness center and hospitality-like gathering spaces.

The building has floor-to-ceiling, 15-foot glass windows with exposed concrete columns and floorplates that were designed to give companies the ability to have open workspaces. One Legacy West has four parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of office space.

The office space is being marketed at $30 to $32 per square foot, triple net with estimated operating expenses at nearly $10 per square foot and electricity at $1.10 per square foot.

Dallas-based lauckgroup is the building's interior designer for these common areas. Austin Commercial is the project's general contractor. Construction on One Legacy West is expected to be finished in December.

This is Gaedeke Group's first real estate development in Texas, but it won't be the firm's last project. Gaedeke Group acquired 11 acres of land from the Fehmi Karahan-led partnership behind Legacy West and there's room for yet another office building.

Even though the real estate investment and development firm has built One Legacy West speculatively, Dabliz said the group will likely want a tenant to kick off the second office tower in the future.

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