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DENVER-The retail market in the Denver area improved slightly in the first quarter of 2003, according to a report by the Trammell Crow Co.The overall vacancy rate dropped slightly to 6.6%, with the south submarket boasting the lowest vacancy rate at 3%, down slightly from 3.1% in the fourth quarter. The highest vacancy rate was in the northeast submarket, where it stood at 10.7%, up from 10.6% in the fourth quarter.

Most encouraging was that that market posted 984,600 sf of net absorption in1Q03, compared with 906,095 sf in the fourth quarter of last year.The strongest first quarter net absorption was in the south market, accounting for 801,897 sf of the total.

“Metro Denver’s retail absorption performance is nothing short of remarkable, especially in light of the uncertainty caused by the soft employment outlook and the war with Iraq,” the report notes.The report goes on to note that the average rental rate rose 1% during the first quarter to an average of $13.88 per square foot, triple net.

As far as construction, 846,400 sf was added to the market in the first quarter, including two Wal-Mart-anchored centers and one Safeway-anchored center. A total of 1.7 million sf of retail space was added to the market in 2002, while Trammell Crow is projecting 2.3 million sf to be completed this year.

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