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PHILADELPHIA-Of the nearly 35 million sf of industrial space in the Lehigh Valley, more than six million sf, including sublease space, is vacant. The overall vacancy rate has remained above 17% for the past five quarters, according to Paul Torosian, principal of the local office of Trammell Crow Co., and now stands at 17.6%. The direct vacancy rate is 16.1%.

The first-quarter 2003 TCC research notes there are limited options available in “big box” new product. However, Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Opus East plans to break ground later this year on a 607,000-sf spec building in the region.

During first quarter, net absorption was a negative 134,879 sf. “The availability of second- and third-generation product will slow the overall improvement in the market statistics over the next several quarters,” Torosian predicts.

Meanwhile, the average asking Lehigh Valley industrial rental rate is holding at $4.25 per sf. This compares with an average of $4.55 per sf for industrial space in the entire Greater Philadelphia markets, including three counties in southern NJ and New Castle County, DE.

Larry Maister, VP, and Marie Connell, senior associate in TCC’s Philadelphia regional office, participated with Torosian in the research.

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