The drop in activity caused the vacancy rate to rise to 15.3%countywide, compared to 14.4% at year's-end 2007. However, thefourth quarter 2008 rate was down slightly from the 15.6% posted ayear ago. Vacancy rates in Downtown White Plains rose a fullpercentage point in the first quarter from a year earlier to 11.9%.Much of the increase, the report states, is due to vacancies at theWestchester One office building at 44 S. Broadway. The empty spaceat that property accounts for 50% of the vacancies in the WhitePlains CBD.

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The brokerage firm reports that direct average rents in DowntownWhite Plains now stand at $34.57 per sf, more than $4 per sf higherthan the $30.29 per sf reported at the end of the first quarter of2007. Countywide, direct average rents at the end of the firstquarter averaged $31.40 per sf, up from the $30.02 per sf posted ayear earlier.

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While the numbers are different, due to different criteria usedin their respective studies, Newmark Knight Frank also reports anearly one-percentage point rise in the office availability rate inWestchester County as compared to three months ago. The firm, whichhas offices in Greenwich, CT, has the first quarter 2008availability rate at 12.3% countywide, up from 11.4% at year's-end2007 and 12% posted a year ago. Newmark Knight Frank lists thecountywide weighted average asking rent at $29.99 per sf, up from$29.30 three months earlier.

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"Unlike certain markets across that country that are home to ahigh percentage of companies in the financial services sector,Westchester County will remain stable due to the assorted mix ofbusinesses based here," says Jim Fagan, senior managing directorand branch manager for Cushman & Wakefield's Westchester andFairfield County region. "Despite a national office marketslowdown, we see stable pricing for both rental rates and buildingpricing over the next quarter or so before they start to escalateagain. There has been some cooling off, so we are now in a mode ofsustainable and more moderate growth." The brokerage firm expectsrental prices to remain stable throughout the year, but tenantconcessions are likely to increase.

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John Jordan

John Jordan is a veteran journalist with 36 years of print and digital media experience.