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NEW YORK CITY-Led by Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.’s signing for 430,000 sf on 19 floors at 140 Broadway, Manhattan saw an upsurge in leasing activity in July compared to the month before. That transaction left just one block of contiguous space of more than 250,000 sf Downtown, according to an office market review by Insignia/ESG. Since June, Midtown activity has risen by 29%, by 15% in Downtown and by 46% in Midtown South.

Insignia’s chief operating officer, Joseph R. Harbert, notes in a prepared statement that, “Although much of the activity is still comprised of mid-sized transactions–roughly 25,000 to 50,000 sf–we are beginning to see larger companies act on their real estate needs.” He notes that there are approximately 40 companies now actively looking for 100,000 sf and above in Manhattan.

Midtown–Year-to-date, 6.76 million sf has been leased here, well below last year but down just slightly from the first half of 1999. Most of the leases signed in July were for between 10,000 sf to 50,000 sf. And although 940,000 sf of net space was added, the availability rate moved up only 0.5% to 6.9% for the month. The average asking rent is $61.18 per sf; last year its was $60.68 per sf.

Downtown–In July 2000, 350,000 sf were leased in this part of town; last month 610,000 sf were taken, led by the Financial District. For the year-to-date, however, the 3.25 million sf that has been leased is 47% below that of 2000. Compared to 1999, the comparison is more positive; 3.82 million sf of space was taken through June of that year. Total leasing outstripped the amount of new space that became available during July, with Downtown logging 270,000 sf of positive absorption for the month. Average asking rents fell $1 per sf to $46.12 per sf, but still 1% higher than in 2000.

Midtown South–Small transactions characterized the deals here such as the 16,000 sf that Sony Music Entertainment leased at 215 Park Ave. South. About 3.14 million sf have been leased since January, up slightly from 1999 when 3.12 million sf were signed for, but well below last year’s tally of 4.13 million sf for the same period. Thanks, in part, to several subleases and direct space being withdrawn from the market, the availability rate was reduced to 9%, at equilibrium, but more than twice that of 2000′s 4.7%. The average asking rent was steady at $43.63 per sf.

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