"Yes, we have," an Astra Tech spokesman confirmed when asked byGlobeSt.com whether the firm has been pursuing 590 Lincoln St. asthe answer for a space search to relocate from its present home at890 Winter St. in Waltham. The spokesman declined to offer details,but did dispute industry reports that a letter of intent has beeninked. One source close to the deal insists Astra Tech hascommitted to take all the space in the building for 10 years, andpredicts a final lease could be in place as early as next week.

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Most parties involved in the negotiations did not respond bypress deadline, including brokers at NAI Hunneman Commercial Co.and Wyman Street Advisors. NAI Hunneman SVPs James Boudrot andSteven James are agents for the tenant, while Wyman Streetprincipal Charles Batchelder is exclusive leasing agent for HobbsBrook Office Park. HBM principal Donald Oldmixon also did notrespond to press inquiries by deadline.

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If Astra Tech does consummate its agreement, observers note thatthe deal would take away yet another option for tenants seekingmore than 50,000 sf of contiguous space in the Route 128 Centralsubmarket. A speculative office building overlooking Route 128 hasalso been eliminated after landlord Boston Properties found takersfor all 200,000 sf, and National Grid is leasing 312,000 sf at theReservoir Woods office park being developed by Davis MarcusPartners. The latter lease helped Route 128 Central 2007 with aflurry of activity enough to drop the direct vacancy rate to 8.6%,according to Jones Lang LaSalle's year-end review.

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Route 128 Central was the only suburban Boston submarket amongseven tracked by JLL that is in single digits on vacancy rate, andis well below the next tightest, Interstate 495/MassachusettsTurnpike, which has a 14.4% mark. The overall suburban average is14.8%. For the year, Route 128 Central registered 308,000 sf ofpositive net absorption, including 241,000 sf during the fourthquarter.

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