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LOS ANGELES-Office vacancy rates “appear to have stabilized” in the LA area, according to a midyear office market report from Cushman & Wakefield, which calls the results of the first two quarters “an encouraging sign for the local economy.”

In Los Angeles County, overall vacancy rates dropped to 17.9% from 18.1% in the previous quarter, with C&W saying it expects leasing activity to pick up in the second half as companies “start seriously making long-term facilities decisions for the first time since the market shifted in late 2000.”

The countywide vacancy rate, which was up a tenth of a percent from the second quarter a year ago, consisted of 15.1% direct space and 2.7% sublease space. C&W tracks 1,405 buildings with 182.8 million sf in the county.

Downtown Los Angeles stands out in the report as one of only two CBDs in the nation–the other being Washington, DC–that is not in a downturn. The study shows that average asking rental rate rose to $25.56 per sf in the Downtown LA market from $24.72 per sf in the previous quarter. Despite these upbeat signs, the local CBD, where the overall vacancy was 19.9% in the second quarter, still has some way to go before it reaches equilibrium, the report says.

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