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SEATTLE-There’s no question that construction of new office space in the greater Seattle and Eastside areas has reached a fevered pitch. The question is whether the market can absorb all this new space, and the answer so far appears to be “yes—and then some.”

Commercial Space Online’s “Third Quarter Statistical Report” shows that between July 1 and Sept. 30, five new downtown Seattle projects were completed and 16 projects broke ground, bringing new construction in Seattle to 8.2 million sf — an 11% increase. During the same period, the Eastside saw the launch of 7 new office buildings, pushing its space under construction there to 5.2 million sf.

Thankfully, according to the report, 42% of all office space currently under construction in Seattle and on the Eastside has been spoken for with signed lease agreements. The activity has pushed to-date absorption in the two markets up a whopping 55% from 1999. Through the first three quarters, the Seattle/Bellevue markets absorbed 4.13 million sf. In 1999, the first nine months saw only 2.66 million sf preleased.

“The pre-leasing we’ve been seeing is previously unheard of in the Northwest marketplace,” says Rob Aigner, executive managing director for Colliers International in Seattle. “Nearly 85% of new buildings are pre-leased before they open for occupancy.”

Ainger cites the market’s ability here to fill its offices in part to expansion within telecom industries. Substantial companies such as AT&T, American Express, Goldman Sachs, Real Networks and Safeco are looking to establish a strong presence in this market. “Seattle is now on the global map,” Aigner tells GlobeSt.com. “Certain industries are saying ‘we’ve got to be there’. It’s sort of a herding instinct.”

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