MIAMI -The Palm Beach, FL office market is struggling through slow times, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s second quarter report. Vacancies increased 4.4% from 2001 second quarter and stand at 17.2%, with rents averaging $26.50 sf.

Leasing activity is down by 34% from last year and construction has come to a standstill. There are no construction projects under way and in the year-to-date, 134,403 sf has been completed versus 180,000 sf last year.

North Palm Beach has both the county’s largest and smallest vacancy areas. Riviera Beach has the highest vacancy rate with 28.6%, while Jupiter/Tequesta has 6.4%.

Tom Dean, a senior director at Cushman & Wakefield, tells he “expects rent rates to stabilize during the last two quarters.” He says. “Landlords will continue to offer substandard improvement in combination with free rent packages to lure businesses.”

Boca Raton had four out of the five biggest leases in the second quarter, totaling 69,527 sf. Despite that, Boca Raton rates are slightly below the county average at $25.81 sf. The highest is the central business district with $32.33 sf.

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