Preliminary numbers indicate that third-quarter vacancy ratesfor 54 metropolitan statistical areas across the country are at12.3%, up from 10.8% in the second quarter and 9.5% in Q1. For theMSA of Boston, third-quarter vacancies are 12.1%, which is a littlebetter than the national average but a jump from the secondquarter--which saw vacancies of 8.7%. "Boston was performing betterthan the overall picture," Xochitl Leon, an analyst at TortoWheaton Research, tells "Now it is closer to theoverall picture."

Leon attributes the jump to the construction going on in thesuburban markets. "There is a mini-building boom of sorts in theMetroWest market," she points out. "It's not as overbuilt as thelast recession, but there is still a lot of construction comparedwith the last five years."

According to Leon, since 1990, this area built an average of twomillion sf per year. As of 1999, the area was building an averageof 3.5 million feet per year. Over the next five years, the areacan expect an average of five million sf to be built annually. In2004, 6.1 million sf is expected to be built, but Leon says thatsome of those projects could still be cancelled.

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