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GREATER BOSTON-A continuing rise in vacancy and availability rates in the city and suburbs indicates that the office market in those areas continues to struggle to fill all the space that’s been thrown onto the market over the past year and a half.

According to second-quarter market figures compiled by Richards Barry Joyce & Partners, overall vacancy rates–which includes sublease and direct space–for the city’s central business district is up to 10% from 5.5% for the same period last year. In the suburbs, sublet vacancies make up over 50% of the space while in the city that figure drops to 30%.

Overall availability rates–which includes sublease and direct space as well as space that will be available within the next 12 months–is up to 15.7% from 7% for the same period last year. “We’re seeing people making opportunistic moves,” Brian McKenzie, a partner at the firm tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re seeing more activity and we’re seeing property owners making deals.”

While McKenzie notes that large users are leveraging the current market into deals, they are not impacting the figures significantly. “There is more sublease space coming on the market,” he says. “Many leaseholders are waiting to put on space because they don’t want to compete against themselves.” But he points out that “the speed at which subleases are being delivered to the market is slowing.”But while the city is struggling the suburbs are treading water. The 495/North office market had a 20.5% vacancy rate for this quarter which is up from 15% at the end of last year. The availability rate for that area soared to 30% which makes sense in light of the huge amount of space Cisco Systems and other large users have put on the market. Kathleen Kelly, director of research for the firm, emphasizes to GlobeSt.com that there are “more tenants out in the market.”

Industry sources tell GlobeSt.com that Lucent is looking for a 250,000-sf space while Selectron is looking for 150,000-sf in this area. “There is an increase in activity but there is still a long way to go to achieve market stability,” says McKenzie, who notes that that can only be achieved at a 10% to 13% vacancy rate.

In the 128/West market vacancy rate was at 20%, up just a point from the end of last year. Availability rate was at 25%, also up just a point from the end of last year. “Telecom users are giving back large blocks of space,” says McKenzie, “and the slowdown in the industry has had a chain effect on smaller companies who relied on them. The whole industry has stalled.” In the 128/North market vacancy rates were up to 19%, up from 16% at then end of last year. Availability rates were up to 26% up from 21% at the end of last year. Some of that space belongs to Genuity, which has recently laid off a lot of its employees and will be putting 250,000-sf of space n the market within a few months.”It appears to be a bleak picture,” says McKenzie, “but there is a silver lining and that is the pick-up in activity. There were more transactions in the first six months of this year than in all of last year.”

In fact a number of deals were recently closed including Boston Scientific taking 44,000-sf; Mathworks taking 44,000-sf; Proquent taking 43,000-sf; and an 80,000-sf facility for Fernzme. “It’s not all doom and gloom,” says McKenzie. “It’s good sign to see some companies growing and once they do they are able to get good deals.”

McKenzie says that market is spotty in terms of rates but the 495 area is leasing at a rate of the low $20s per sf on average. But he adds that there are specific situations where a tenant can get $14 to $15 per sf. And he notes that sub landlords are doing everything they can to lease the space.

“No one really knows when the bottom of the market is going to be, but we are seeing some positive steps now as opposed to 12 months ago,” says McKenzie.

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