CHICAGO-Not only are suburban office rents in among the lowest among major US markets, they hover perilously close to break-even, a report by Studley suggests. The Studley Effective Rent Index reports the effective rent for office property owners in suburban Cook County is just $3.40 per sf after concessions are factored in, and just $3.08 per sf in Lake and DuPage counties.

Those figures are less than half of the next lowest market, Fort Lauderdale, FL, according to the Studley Effective Rent Index. And Downtown is hardly faring much better, as the property owners’ effective rent there is $5.75 per sf, worst among the Central Business Districts in Studley’s study.

The $3.08 per sf in Lake and DuPage counties is down 44% from last year, while the $3.40 per sf in suburban Cook County is a 49% drop from 2003, according to the Studley Effective Rent Index. Also, the property owners’ effective rent in Lake and DuPage counties is an 88% discount from a total rent of $22.25 per sf, the biggest write-down seen in the study.

Property owners in Downtown have seen their effective rents drop for four straight years, from $14.88 per sf in 1999 to $5.75 per sf in 2003, according to the Studley Effective Rent Index. With rents continuing to be under pressure, expenses have gone up, with property taxes increasing to $8.03 per sf, second only to Midtown Manhattan.

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