Office leasing activity in Manhattan could be turning a tide. An October report from Colliers International shows a 57.4% increase in office leasing for the month compared to September. Four large office leases drove activity in the market, including NYU Langone's 633,000-square-foot lease renewal at 1 Park Avenue. This lease was also notable because it was the second largest lease to close this year.

These four leases were concentrated in Downtown and Midtown South, both of which had increased leasing activity. Midtown South's leasing volume totaled 1.22 million square feet, the highest so far this year. This accounted for 70% of the leasing activity in October, deals that included NYU Langone's lease as well as leases by Centric Brands, Li & Fung and Noom. In Downtown, leasing volume increased nearly 60% over September, including a 71,000-square-foot lease by Topps Co. at 1 Whitehall Street, the largest for the month in the market.

While there were come positive signs of movement after a near halt in activity, Manhattan is still far from recovery. Year-over-year leasing volume decreased 54% for the greater market, bringing the vacancy rate to 12.9%, the highest since 2004. In addition, sublease supply is the highest since 2009, pushing monthly absorption into the red for the eighth consecutive month and rental rates down 1.2%. Even in improving submarkets like Downtown and Midtown South, year-over-year leasing activity was down. The vacancy rate in both markets also increased as rental rates decreased—a trend throughout the market.

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.