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MIAMI-The Miami-Dade County office market is soft, with the overall vacancy rate and sublease availabilities increasing, and net absorption remaining negative, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s first quarter office overview for the county.

The overall vacancy rate in the county for that period continued to rise, by 0.6% to 18.6% since the end of the year and by 2.4% in the last year. Most of the county’s submarkets experienced these hikes.

For example, the overall vacancy rate in the central business district rose by 1.4% to 17.4%–the highest since 1997. The vacancy rate is even higher–17.8%–and expected to grow in the Brickell Avenue submarket with two construction completions and Dresdner Bank’s vacating 63,105 sf at 801 Brickell Ave.

The vacancy rate in the airport/west Dade submarket rose 0.8 of a percentage point to 21.6%. Vacancy rates were affected by an increase in sublease space and construction completions. Leasing activity is basically unchanged, compared with the same time last year.

The Lincoln, a 120,000-sf office building in Miami Beach, was delivered in the first quarter 100% vacant, affecting a 3.7% increase in vacancy in that sector. In that period, the Miami Beach submarket saw the highest vacancy rate in the county–33.6%–and experienced a lack of demand for space and a new construction surplus.

Construction activity is expected to continue to be significant this year, as 995,839 sf of speculative office space that is 68% vacant is under construction. The central business district is set to have the majority of that, as three buildings with 635,000 sf of office space are scheduled to be completed this year. That would be the largest amount of new construction in this sector since the early 1980s.

The Coral Gables submarket continues to be the county’s strong area, the report states. Although the submarket saw a 5.7% rise in its vacancy rate to 20.7% in the last year, the submarket experienced “healthy leasing activity” totaling 183,138 sf year-to-date and had almost a 1% decline in its vacancy rate in the first quarter.

Due to an unsteady economy and troubles in Latin America, year-to-date net absorption is a negative 162,734 sf, the report states.

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