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“Darth Vader” building to go up for sale; office properties are hot

The Northbridge Centre, aka the Darth Vader building, is about to go on the market for sale.

Real estate sources expect the Force to be with the brokers who will peddle this property, which for years has been associated with the Dark Lord of the Sith, owing to its imposing black glass.

Owner Gaedeke Group used to be annoyed when people referred to the building by its Star Wars moniker. Eventually, however, the Northbridge’s owner surrendered to the link and even created a marketing video around it.

Office properties are hot commodities these days, and the last time the Northbridge changed hands was more than 20 years ago. So expect a lot of interest when the property hits the market in the coming days.

The complex in downtown West Palm Beach follows the path of other city-center office buildings that have changed hands for big money during this latest real estate boom.

Northbridge, at 515 N. Flagler Drive, has a 21-story tower and adjacent pavilion. It was buit in 1987 and has been owned by the Gaedeke Group since 1993, which paid $24 million for the property.

Although the property is not a Class A-style building, it does have Class A views of the Intracoastal Waterway, Palm Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sources say the 293,000-square-foot building is about 85 percent leased. Rates range from $17 to $22 per square foot, not including taxes, insurance and maintenance.

The building is close to the courthouse and is popular with law firms. Tenants include the Ciklin, Lubitz law firm and the Lytal, Reiter law firm.

In 2002, Gaedeke did a face lift, trying to soften the Darth Vader nickname by creating a white glass atrium between the tower and pavilion buildings.

That just led some people to start call the building The Oreo, since it now resembles the white cream-filled chocolate cookie popular with kids of all ages.

Another change took place at the top: The tower’s top floor used to be restaurants Le Mont and Rockwells. Before that, private clubs Roof Gardens and the Executive Club occupied the space.

But dining ended in 2006 when the Northbridge’s owner revamped the top floor into commercial office space.

Office complexes are changing hands for big money these days.

The Phillips Point office complex, at 777 S. Flagler Drive, sold earlier this year $245.5 million. AEW Capital Management of Boston was the buyer.

And in 2014, CityPlace Tower, at 525 Okeechobee Boulevard, sold for $150 million to W.R. Berkley Corp.

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