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DENVER-The local multifamily rental market, mirroring the Denver area economy,remains sluggish, according to a report by Hendricks & Partners. “The apartment market continued to struggle with high vacancy rates that curtailed growth,” the report notes.

The overall vacancy rate is 9.4% in the first quarter, up from 4.8% in the first quarter of 2001.

Douglas County along the southeast corridor had a 16.6% vacancy rate, the report notes. Other soft area include the Northwest US 36 corridor and Thornton to the north, while Lakewood to the west and central Denver, and north Aurora are in much better shape.

The company notes economic growth is expected to rise slowly later this year and accelerate into 2003 as the high-tech sector begins to expand again.

But for now, “Rent growth is slipping as high vacancy rates prohibit anything but discounted rents or nominal gains at most,” the report notes. “Most submarket rents have now fallen to late 2000 levels.”

To combat increasing vacancy rates, Hendricks says, property owners are offering aggressive concessions, up to three months free rent on a 12-month lease.

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