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OAK BROOK, IL-For CenterPoint Properties Trust’s leasing team, next year promises to be one if its biggest challenges to date. The largest industrial property owner in the market has leases covering nearly seven million sf expiring next year, representing nearly a quarter of its 31.7-million-sf portfolio.

The REIT finished the third quarter with a 93.7% occupancy rate, up 0.7% from the second quarter and nearly three full points so far in 2003. Chief investment officer Paul T. Ahern notes the average lease rate of the expiring deals is $3.36 per sf, well below the market as well as the portfolio’s overall average of $4.06 per sf.

That will allow CenterPoint Properties Trust to continue to be competitive on price, Ahern suggests. Deals done this year include low rents in early years with escalations along the way, he says. “We’ve been very good in not giving away free rent,” Ahern adds.

Recent leasing efforts include landing 15 new tenants during the third quarter, taking 945,000 sf. For the year, CenterPoint Properties Trust has welcomed 41 new tenants claiming 3.2 million sf to its holdings, Ahern reports. That compares to 38 new tenants in all of 2002 leasing 2.2 million sf, he adds.

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