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BOSTON-There is perhaps no better indication of the changing fortunes of the local commercial real estate market here than the fact that 131 Dartmouth St., the 11-story tower located in the Back Bay, has yet to prelease a single tenant.

The 353,000-sf tower is slated for completion within a year and at this point in construction, two other prominent local towers–111 Huntington Ave. and 10 St. James Ave.–had both scored significant tenants. “It’s a challenge for that property,” Bill Motley, vice president of the Downtown brokerage group at Spaulding & Slye Colliers, tells GlobeSt.com. Motley, who confirms for Globest.com that the building has not signed any tenants yet adds, “The market has slowed down considerably. Demand has fallen off in the past six to nine months.”

As Motley notes, timing is everything in this case. 10 St. James broke ground nearly two years ago and were able to go after tenants aggressively. “They had a good head start in a tight market and were able to lease a significant amount of space,” he says. The tower on Huntington Street was also able to get its project moving two years ago when Palmer & Dodge leased 211,000 sf of space there.

According to a recent report release by Spaulding & Slye Colliers, the Back Bay’s office vacancy is at 3.1% for direct space and 9.2% including sublease space. “The challenge is timing and the market cycle,” says Motley. “They are working hard to get it leased. Although the market is slow, they are well-positioned.” As Motley points out, there are not that many area buildings with 360,000 sf of contiguous space. “If they only had 20,000-sf of space they would be competing with so many class A buildings but they can distinguish themselves. There is some activity in that tier of tenants,” he says.

The developers of 131 Dartmouth–Sullivan Properties, Peabody Construction and Heritage Property Investment Trust–did not return calls by press time but Motley notes that most developers would like to have their leasing further along by this time. Still, Motley emphasizes that the building is in a great location, sandwiched between the Back Bay and the South End, and has direct access to public transportation as well as vehicular traffic. “They’ll do fine,” says Motley. “They just hit a downturn and tenants have decided to sit on their hands for a while.”

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