STAMFORD, CT-An official with Albert B. Ashforth Corporate Real Estate says that the expected failure of additional dotcom companies in the near future could help alleviate the extremely tight market conditions throughout Fairfield County.

“Within the next two quarters there will likely be a significant give back of office space by e-companies and dotcom companies. A large number of these companies will fail within this time period,” Ed Tonnessen, executive vice president of Albert B. Ashforth says. “They haven’t generated profits and the venture capital money that has been supporting them is drying up. They will be giving their office space back to their landlords, who will have a new opportunity to lease it.”

He notes the recent example of Priceline affiliate, Webhouse, which leased 80,000 sf of office space in Greenwich, then closed its doors within three months. “Webhouse was just the tip of the iceberg. Just when the office market is getting tight, some of these deals that were done in the last 12 months are going to be undone.”

However, because of pent-up demand for office space in Fairfield County, it could be just a temporary loosening of the vacancy rate. Because space that becomes available due to the failure of dotcom companies could be quickly re-leased, Tonnessen adds he doesn’t expect the office market vacancy rate will change dramatically.

Albert B. Ashforth, Inc. reports a vacancy rate of 5.2% for Class A office space during the third quarter of 2000 in Fairfield County, relatively unchanged from the 5.1% vacancy rate for the second quarter of 2000. The lowest Class A office vacancy rates in the county are in Bethel and Ridgefield, both with virtually no available space due primarily to their market size; Westport, 1.4% Norwalk, 2.7% ; Fairfield, 3.2% and Stamford, 3.3%. The highest Class A office vacancy rates in the county are in New Canaan, 19.6%; Danbury, 12.6%; Shelton, 10.7%; Stratford, 9.2% and Darien, 7.8%.

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