Done Deal: Finalizing Lenovo’s RTP expansion took five weeks

Fast. That’s the word everyone uses when talking about Lenovo’s recently signed lease on the old Ericsson campus at Research Triangle Park.

“A little less than five weeks,” says Dan Doyon, vice president and director of acquisitions at Rubenstein Partners in Philadelphia. “A deal this size normally takes a lot more time.”

The lease, finalized last Saturday, is for both buildings on the property.

Doyon remembers well the day Lenovo made its $2.3 billion deal for IBM (NYSE: IBM)’s Research Triangle Park-based server business in January. That’s when he and his team got to work. Doyon, in town that January day for the Triangle Business Journal Real Estate Awards which were held at the property, says within 24 hours of that announcement, it became known that Lenovo was looking for between 400,000 and 500,000 square feet of office space to accommodate the more than 2,000 employees coming from IBM.

Specifically, the buildings total about 450,000 square feet of space. According to a memo sent to employees by Gerry Smith, president of Lenovo’s Enterprise Business Group, an additional 30,000 square feet of space will be constructed.

“This new investment again demonstrates our commitment to North Carolina, and I am very proud to expand our presence here and launch the new EBG organization,” Smith writes.

The RTP deal is just the latest in a string of North Carolina investments for the company- investments that followed the 2005 purchase of IBM’s RTP-based PC unit.

Lenovo also recently added a manufacturing line to its facility in Whitsett, a line capable of building everything from computers to tablets to smartphones.

And, with the $2.9 billion purchase of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility business, Lenovo is poised for big growth outside that footprint.

And the campus it’s moving into is going through changes of its own.

RTP is in the midst of an urbanization that will start down the road at the Park Center property. Research Triangle Foundation CEO Bob Geolas has told us the addition of retail, restaurants and residential units, starting with Park Center, will re-energize the park for the 21st century.

And that plan isn’t lost on the owners of the Ericsson property.

Last month I chatted with David Rubenstein, founder of Rubenstein Partners, who told me RTP’s efforts were “definitely on our minds,” when deciding to purchase the property.

Rubenstein and Charlotte-based Grubb Properties purchased the former Sony Ericsson headquarters buildings in RTP last year for $26 million, paying about 60 percent less than the $64 million the county revenue department values the property for tax purposes.

The buildings have been vacant since 2010. That’s when Ericsson’s joint venture cell phone development company with Sony decided to move its headquarters to Atlanta.

The buildings were built in 1995 and 1998.