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Office Space Vacancy Rates in US CBDs Fall Slightly

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Bloomberg July 8, 2010 - Office space vacancies in U.S. central business areas fell in the second quarter from the prior three months, the first drop since 2007, as companies hired workers and took advantage of lower office space rents, Cushman & Wakefield said.

The average vacancy rate in central business districts fell to 14.8 percent from 15 percent at the end of the first quarter, the New York-based broker said today. Sixteen of the 31 cities tracked by Cushman had declines in vacancies, the company said.

“Markets throughout the U.S. continue to strengthen, as it becomes strongly apparent that the national vacancy rate for CBDs has peaked,” Maria Sicola, executive managing director and head of Americas research for Cushman, said in a statement.

Office vacancies in both central business districts and suburban areas rose to 17.4 percent in the second quarter, the highest since 1993, New York-based research company Reis Inc. said July 6. Cushman’s figures are for central business districts in cities including New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco.

Some office landlords cut their rents to fill space, Cushman said. The average rent fell to $36.49 a square foot from $36.88 in the first quarter. Nineteen of the 31 districts covered in the survey had quarterly declines in rates and 13 of those had drops of less than 3 percent, a smaller decline than in past quarters, Cushman said.

‘Nearing Bottom’

“While there is still substantial competition among landlords to offer the best deal to prospective tenants, rental rates are nearing a bottom in several markets,” Sicola said.

The U.S. has added 882,000 jobs since the beginning of the year, according to the Labor Department. The drop in office vacancies in the second quarter followed nine straight increases dating back to the last three months of 2007, when the rate bottomed out at 9.7 percent, Cushman said.

Manhattan’s three submarkets -- Midtown, Midtown South and Downtown -- had the lowest vacancy rates among the central business districts tracked by Cushman. Midtown South’s vacancy rate fell to 9.3 percent from 9.9 percent in the first quarter, Downtown’s rate was little changed at 9.9 percent and Midtown’s rate declined to 11.5 percent from 12.6 percent.

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