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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ-According to Cushman & Wakefield of NJ’s newly issued 3Q office market report, things are generally getting better, if only slightly. The report covers a 10-county region of the northern and central portions of the Garden State.

The overview, according to Christopher Kinum, senior managing director of the firm’s office here, is that the vacancy rate is virtually unchanged from the 2Q at a shade over 19%. But that’s still a point and a half higher than it was a year ago.

Direct absorption is up, registering +511,000 sf in the quarter, marking the second straight positive quarter. That achievement can be credited to the completion of the SJP Properties’ pre-leased Waterfront Corporate Center II in Hoboken, as well as leases by Pfizer in Parsippany (160,000 sf), Biovail Pharma (115,000 sf in the I-78 corridor) and Barnes & Noble (74,000 sf in the same submarket).

And the amount of available sublease space dropped slightly from a year ago, with a 7% decline to just over 10.1 million sf, according to Kinum.

Still, overall asking rents are falling, if only slightly. For the period, the average was $25.59 per sf, down six cents from the end of the 2Q. The average a year ago, meanwhile, was $26.26.

“The market continues to challenge industry professionals,” Kinum says. “At the same time, stepped-up corporate decision-making timeframes and announcements from the Governor are providing a boost to the sporadic increase in velocity we’ve witnessed during the past few months.”

Those announcements from Gov. James McGreevey, of course, include reinstatement of the Business Employment Incentive Program (see earlier story) and a call for a major bond issue to fund a number of other corporate incentives.

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