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LONDON-The office market in central London appears to be holding firm, according to a new report from Jones Lang LaSalle. A record amount of office space is currently under offer, and there is still evidence to support strong rents.

The JLL report said that despite a slow summer period, rents remained strong during the third quarter of 2001. In the West End, £67.50 ($97) per sf was achieved at 105 Wigmore Street, a record rent for north of Oxford Street. And in the City, £65 ($94) per sf was achieved on a letting at 20 Old Broad Street, together with £68.50 ($99) for a 5,500-sf unit at City Point, Ropemaker Street.

Although overall demand for space fell, almost 700,000 sf of new West End requirements were registered during the quarter. West End demand in the is at the same level as in the first half of 2000 and one third higher than in 1999. The West End vacancy rate now stands at 3.9%. And City vacancies remained stable at 4.42 million sf representing a 5.3% vacancy rate.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s national director of West End leasing, Phillip Howells, said: ‘While there is some uncertainty in the market–both as a result of the tragic events of 11 September and also the current economic climate–the market continues to perform well.’

But he raised a question mark over future rental growth. ‘What we are witnessing at the moment is a levelling of the market. At current levels of supply, occupiers have more choice, which helps to eliminate the level of volatility experienced in 2000 when West End rents increased by a staggering 35%.’

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