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Cousins Properties moved on down. To the 5th floor of 191 Tower.
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We got a personalized tour with Cousins' Thad Ellis, who showed us around the REIT's 35k SF single-floor space  at the iconic downtown tower. Cousins moved from from the 36th and 37th floors when Carlock, Copeland & Stair moved into its space this past March. That deal helped propel the 1.2M SF tower to 15% vacancy, Thad says, a far cry from when Cousins purchased it in 2006. Cousins' HQ space is built out with lots of  integrated lighting and open floorplans, including this break room, which was designed by Atlanta architectural firm Hendrick. As you can see by our unprofessional camera eye, Thad also brought a  new restaurant to 191: Alma Cocina, an upscale Mexican eatery run by Fifth Group Restaurants that's set to open soon. JoS. A Bank also plans to open a store at 191.
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Cousins pushed its portfolio occupancy to 90% this year. And the developer is moving forward on a mixed-use project (office, retail) in Chapel Hill called Franklin Square. Thad did find time to promote the one-penny sales tax  for transportation project funding that many civic leaders have been pushing. And like them, Thad says it's critical to pass or our  economic development muscle could very well weaken. ?If we defeat it as voters, not only are we not going to improve on our infrastructur … we're just going to fall further behind these other cities that have their act together,? he says. ?I do believe that anybody who is in commercial real estate and they don't support this, they don't need to be in our industry. We have more to lose as an industry if we lose this.?