ORLANDO-The sagging national economy is taking its toll on metro Orlando’s 6.8 million-sf service center market where third-quarter vacancies hit 17.43% and show no signs of abating, according to a new study by Rebman Properties Inc. of suburban Maitland, FL.

The bad news follows the third-quarter office market vacancy level at 19.7% reported last week by Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc..

Companies filing for protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code are vacating large chunks of space among the 65 flex-showroom-office properties located south of the East-West Expressway.

Property owners are slashing rents by at least 25% to keep and attract tenants, the report says. Free rent up to six months is also being offered to creditworthy tenants.

Third-quarter vacancies are up from 17.18% in the second quarter and 16.74% in the first period. New construction has halted.

The largest third-quarter lease was Ameripath Corp. taking 42,164 sf for an estimated five years at Chancellor Square, Orlando.

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