Financial services company KeyCorp today announced it has signed a 15-year lease agreement for approximately 221,000 square feet of office space in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

KeyCorp, based in Cleveland, will begin its lease at the renovated Higbee Building in January 2010. Approximately 1,000 Key employees engaged in a variety of functions such as software development, technology and real estate operations will relocate from the May Company building beginning at the end of 2009.

Built in 1931, the 14-floor, 887,000-square-foot Higbee Building was for decades the home to the Higbee and Dillard’s department stores. Now home to The Greater Cleveland Partnership, Elantic Telecom, Verizon and XO Communications, among other tenants, the renowned building has been owned and operated by Forest City Enterprises Inc. since 1983.

Key confirmed last year it was considering alternative locations for the operations housed in the nearby May Company building, where it occupies four floors of space, and is leased through Dec. 31, 2010. That decision was prompted by a comprehensive analysis of the company’s future operational and technology requirements, which revealed that upgrading the current space was not feasible.

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