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BALA CYNWYD, PA-The vacancy rate in this suburban office market, whichincludes Narbeth, rose to 13% in the first quarter of this year, comparedwith 11.9% in third quarter 2002, according to data from the regional office ofTrammell Crow Co. At 13%, it is still among the healthiest of the Philadelphiasuburban submarkets.

Corporate downsizing continues to add sublet space. Direct vacancy was 7.1%in this year’s opening quarter. Furthermore, shifts at three differentproperties are having an impact. American Business Financial Services boltedBalaPoint Centre here for 234,000-sf in the Wanamaker Building in Center City. ATXCommunications is marketing its 55,000-sf headquarters building at 50Monument Road for lease.

These moves “have created the two largest contiguous blocks of spaceavailable in this submarket in 10 years,” says Tom Sklow of TCC. Inaddition, the law firm of Kane & Silverman, which purchased the 43,840-sf building at One BalaAvenue, is marketing more than 40,000 sf.

“The increased vacancy rate has begun to put additional pressure on thepremium rental rates this submarket traditionally commands,” says Sklow. Heexpects rental rates here to experience continued downward pressure “in order tocompete with the aggressive rental rates being offered in Conshohocken.”

TCC reports that some Conshohocken office owners are offering discounts inexcess of 30%. The average asking rate in that market is $25.36 per sf,compared with an asking average of $25.57 per sf in the Bala Cynwyd/Narbeth market.

John C. Shelly, VP of the TCC office, participated with Sklow in thefirst-quarter research.

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