Jones Lang LaSalle estimates a decline of 259,000 sf YTD in areview of 11.5 million sf. Cushman & Wakefield puts the mark atminus-133,000 on a like amount, while Grubb & Ellis has Route128 South absorption down by 105,000 sf in its survey of 9.4million sf.

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"The first quarter was incredibly slow," accedes C&W seniordirector JP Plunkett, who covers the southern district withcolleague Catherine Minnerly. Plunkett, however, insists the lullis temporary, partly a result of the market's robust 2006 campaign.So many transactions were concluded in the fourth quarter, littlewas left to carry over into 2007, according to Plunkett, advisingthat the second frame showed more steam, especially during May.June cooled down, he says, and the bifurcated July 4th holiday hasinordinately disrupted deal flow, but Plunkett tells GlobeSt.comthat listings are up and velocity appears encouraging goingforward. "The leasing market is fine," he says. "It's just not wildlike it has been, but it will pick up."

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Among the few winners to date in 2007 appears to be Braintree'sGranite Woods Corporate Center, a two-building, 167,000-sf officepark that underwent a multimillion renovation after being purchasedlast year by the Campanelli Cos. The locally based firm has kickedoff the second half of 2007 by finalizing another lease at GraniteWoods. The Visiting Nurses Association has opted to relocate fromBoston into more than 11,000 sf at Building One, director ofleasing Peter Brown has announced. Not including a pending leasefor another 16,000 sf, Campanelli has already completed 120,000 sfin leases at Granite Woods during the last six months. The biggestcoup occurred in the spring when Campanelli landed Traveler'sIndemnity Insurance Co. for a 40,000-sf lease in Building One.

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"The continued success of our leasing campaign at Granite WoodsCorporate Center demonstrates the property's outstanding value andthe vitality of the Braintree and Quincy markets," says FHOPartners principal Sean Teague, who represents the office park andhandled the VNA deal with FHO brokers Tom Kent and Leeanne Rizzo.Roger Breslin, Frank Durand and David Goodhue of Meredith &Grew were agents for the tenant.The other big news occurred in thesecond quarter when New York City-based investment group KSPartners paid $52 million for the Flatley portfolio in Braintree.Included was 10 buildings and 420,000 sf, mostly older butwell-located assets that KS principal Kambiz Shahbazi is renovatingin a bid to push rents. The main buildings in that transaction,first reported by GlobeSt.com in May, include the Blue HillsCommerce Center, the Forbes Business Center and Mark 128 OfficePark.As for South office market overall, observers such as RBJdirector of research Brendan Carroll and new investors likeShahbazi insist the near-term future looks solid. The Route 128office vacancy rate ranges from 13.6% in the C&W overview up to16.1% in the JLL survey. RBJ estimates it at 13.8%, while Grubb& Ellis has a 14.9% result. The I-495 South submarket, whichmost surveys have around two million sf, remains troubled on thestatistical end. The lowest vacancy rate there is 14.8% in the RBJreview, whereas C&W posted it at 18.7% after a brutal openingwith minus-286,000-sf absorption. That alarming level occurred in asubmarket that C&W puts at just 2.8 million sf in 48buildings.

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