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SEATTLE-The Downtown office vacancy rate grew at its slowest rate in exactly a year, according to a third quarter report released Tuesday afternoon by Cushman & Wakefield’s Seattle office. As it stands, the overall downtown vacancy rate is 11.9%, up from 1.7% in the third quarter of 2000, when vacancies first began to rise again after five consecutive quarters of positive absorption that left vacancy rates at a paltry 0.9% in the second quarter of 2000.

There is currently 4.05 million sf available in the Central Business District, and 40% of it comprised of sublease space. Vacancies are 15.5% higher than they were in the second quarter, according to the report. The good news it’s the slowest percentage growth of any quarter in the past year. The overall vacancy rate has grown by more than 50% in each of the past four quarters, according to the report.

The direct vacancy rate remains below 8%, according to the report. The weighted average asking rental rates for class A space have dropped by 15.6% during the past year, from $41.35 in the third quarter of 2000 to $36.12 in the third quarter of 2001. Class B rates have fallen faster, having dropped 24% in just the past nine months, from $35.67 in the fourth quarter of 2000 to $27.07 in the third quarter of 2001, according to the report.

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