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BOSTON-A semiannual report released by Spaulding & Slye Colliers, a commercial real estate services company here and in Washington, DC, indicates that rents have dropped here, in Cambridge and in the suburban market.

Average direct rents fell from $62.11 to $59.56 according to Bob Kasvinsky, vice president of research at Spaulding & Slye. For class A office space the decline was a sharper 15%, to $64.25. Total availability–which includes space for rent on the market as well as sublease space–was at 9 % in this area for midyear 2001. But Kasvinsky tells GlobeSt.com that these rents are still “higher than in 1999. The availabilities in the Downtown Boston market are still not nearly what they were 10 years ago. This creates a more balanced market for tenants.”

Kasvinsky notes that there are still not many leasing opportunities in the city. “The availability of space in Boston is not very significant,” he says. State Street Corp.’s recent lease of One Lincoln Street is an indication that companies requiring large amounts of space still need to plan nearly two years in advance.

Cambridge’s drop in rent was more significant than the city’s, with rents falling an average $12 per sf to $20 per sf, currently averaging $48 per sf. The availability rate rose here from 4.9% at the end of 2000 to a current 17.3%, the highest number in the past five years. Kasvinsky points out that the area’s heavy reliance on high-tech companies accounts for its sharp decline.

As for the suburban market, on Route 128 in Waltham–the premier market there–class A rents are now $40 per sf to $48 per sf whereas in the third quarter of last year the area was pulling down rents of $70 per sf. “Availability of space has increased there and the sublease space is competing with space rented directly by owners,” says Kasvinsky. “The suburbs responded a lot faster and gave up space very quickly with high-tech companies putting up a lot of space.”

Of all the areas, notes Kasvinsky,” Boston is most likely to rebound most quickly.”

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