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STAMFORD, CT-Second quarter statistics released today by Cushman & Wakefield indicate the Westchester office market continues to show signs of slow, but steady improvement. However, neighboring Fairfield County posted mixed results, with areas like Norwalk and Greenwich seeing strong leasing activity, while new space being returned to the market thwarted any real recovery in Stamford.

Cushman & Wakefield reports that the overall second quarter office vacancy rate (includes Class A and B space) in Westchester County was 16.9 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from the 18.4 percent rate posted at the end of the first quarter of this year.

The second quarter office vacancy rate for strictly Class A space in Westchester County was 19.4 percent, down from 21.6 percent at the end of the first quarter. The Class A vacancy rate in Fairfield County was 20.5 percent at the end of the second quarter, up less than a percentage point from the 19.9 percent rate for the first quarter of this year.

Commenting on the performance of the Westchester office market of late, Michael B. Gordon, director, business development for Cushman & Wakefield’s offices in White Plains and Stamford, said, “The steady increase in leasing activity and the number of transactions executed demonstrates how desirable Westchester County has become to tenants. Large leases were signed in both the Central Business District (White Plains) and Non CBD markets.”

Glenn Walsh, senior director with C&W, adds, “Office showings have increased dramatically which is usually a good sign for the future.” Gordon and Walsh say that leasing activity in the 5,000 sf to 10,000 sf range has been brisk.

Overall leasing activity year-to-date in Westchester County is 780,836 sf, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace. Net absorption was a positive 195,594 in the second quarter and was a positive 227,249 sf for the first six months of this year.

In Fairfield County, several large lease deals in Greenwich, including Ziff Brothers Investments move from New York City to 61,777 sf at 55 Railroad Ave., helped knock down Greenwich’s overall vacancy rate from 16.4 percent in the first quarter to 15.7 percent at the end of June. GE Commercial Finance’s 221,000-sf lease at 201 Merritt 7 in Norwalk, helped cut the city’s vacancy rate from 26.8 percent three months ago to 23.5 percent at the end of the second quarter.

The City of Stamford, on the other hand, saw new space come on to the market, which pushed its vacancy rate higher. C&W reports that the vacancy rate for Class A office space in Stamford is now 18.9 percent, which is 2.6 percentage points higher than the 16.3 percent rate posted at the end of the first quarter of 2003.

“Certain submarkets experienced recovery while others remained stagnant,” explains Gordon. “Overall vacancy and direct vacancy rates for the county increased slightly, but the amount of space and velocity in which it was being added to the market in 2002, lessened in 2003.”

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