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STAMFORD, CT-Due in large part to leasing activity in the once troubled Downtown White Plains market, the overall office vacancy rate for Westchester County in the third quarter 2000 fell 2.2% from last year to 14%, according to figures released by Cushman & Wakefield of Connecticut’s Consulting Services Group. Cushman & Wakefield reports that the average asking rent in Westchester County now stands at $27.83, up from $26.31 posted at the end of the third quarter of 1999.

C&W officials say that leasing activity in White Plains accounted for 40% of the total transactions in Westchester County in the last three months. The Downtown White Plains office vacancy rate dropped from 24.7% last September to 18.2% after the first nine months of this year.

“Westchester County, and White Plains particularly, is an attractive place for technology companies because of the tremendous fiber infrastructure,” says Kenneth M. Krasnow, regional managing director for C&W’s Westchester and Connecticut operations. “Even though White Plains’ rents may reach an all-time high of $35 per sf by year’s end, they will remain lower than prices found in Manhattan or Fairfield County.”

CW reports that office vacancy rates in the eastern section of the county dropped to 9% at the end of the third quarter and the southern tier of the county saw its rate slip to just 5.5% at the end of September 2000. Krasnow says that despite the volatility in the dot.com sector, Westchester County saw a number of transactions with dot.com related companies that either expanded their operations or launched new products at county-based offices.

In terms of his outlook for the market, Krasnow says, “In Westchester, many of the companies that are looking for 30,000 sf to 50,000 sf are having fewer and fewer choices, forcing them to make fast decisions as well as longer lease commitments. In addition, companies that relocated to the area a few years back are expanding within the county, and we expect this trend to continue. We are much less reliant on newcomers relocating to the area than ever before.”

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