NEW YORK CITY-Approximately 1.49 million sf of space was leased in Midtown here during May, slightly less than the 1.64 million sf that was signed for the month before, but almost double what was leased in May 1999, according to the new Office Market Review issued by Insignia/ESG. A large chunk of the space was the 700,000 sf that Bloomberg LP is taking in a mixed-use tower at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, the site of the former Alexander’s department store.

The Bloomberg pre-leasing did not have any affect on absorption, however, which fell to negative 1.2 million sf.

Another notable signing was the 238,000 sf sublease by J.P. Morgan Chase at 1166 Sixth Avenue, but despite that, by the end of the month the Midtown availability rate had increased by 6.1%. Average asking rents rose slightly to $60.85.

Downtown, 290,000 sf were leased during May, including the 123,000 sf at 7 World Trade Center taken by Hartford Fire Insurance, while the area experienced 400,000 sf of negative net absorption. At 77 Water St. Reliance National Insurance accounted for 63,800 sf of the space returned to market. Average asking rents were down a bit to $43.70 per sf, but they were still over $6 per sf higher than in May 2000.

Midtown South witnessed leasing of only 120,000 sf, down 21% year to date compared to 2000, but almost double what was leased through May 1999. Negative net absorption for last May amounted to 390,000 sf. Availability increased six-tenths of a percent to 8.4%, nearly twice that recorded a year ago (4%) and up slightly from 8% in 1999.

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