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PHILADELPHIA-A coordinated Office Retention Program, developed by the Commerce Department of the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., is underway. Designed primarily to stem the city’s negative job growth, it is aimed at companies with significant office space in center city under leases that will come up for renewal over the next four years.

In a letter to these companies’ chief executives, Mayor John Street stresses the employers’ importance to the city and asks for their advice on how the city can help them grow their businesses here.

The city’s office market has held up well in comparison with CBD markets across the country. A significant proportion of leases, however, will come up for renewal in the next several years. Jeffrey Algatt, manager of the Philadelphia regional office of San Francisco-based Marcus & Millichap, says this effort comes “just in time.”

At a June conference of real estate executives here, Jerry Sweeny, president and chief executive officer of Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Brandywine Realty Trust, said, “our challenge is to keep companies here as they grow and merge.”

An average 0.4% decrease in jobs and a 1.5% increase in office vacancies is forecast for Philadelphia and surrounding markets in 2002.

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