(To read more on the net lease market, click here.)

COLUMBUS-With more than 40 million sf of rentable office space, the Columbus market has kicked off the year with positive net absorption reaching nearly 200,000 sf. The vacancy rate, which continues to hover in the 17% range, is expected to fall as “window shoppers” ink deals into fruition, say brokers with the local office of Grubb and Ellis.

During the first quarter, Cleveland-based Advanced Business Capital announced plans to relocate to the Columbus MSA. Peak Performance Solutions Incorporated relocated its headquarters from New Jersey to Pickaway County and received a $100,000 Business Development Grant, and JPMorgan Chase completed the switch over from the Bank One brand by the end of the first quarter for all branches and office buildings. Most recently, OhioHealth announced it will relocate its headquarters during the fourth quarter of 2006 to the Borden Building, located at 180 E. Broad St., occupying approximately 90,000 sf.

The Columbus office of CB Richard Ellis notes in its first quarter report the recent interest in of office condos. This trend, which has been successful in the suburbanmarket, allows tenants to purchase their office space rather than renting. “Many brokers are confident that this new tactic will garner the attention of potential and existing tenants, as well as aid the CBD, by offering a potential return on investment,” states the report.

CBRE’s stats show average asking lease rates in the CBD staying competitive as the overall middling ended the quarter with an average of $18.78 per sf; increasing by more than a dollar from the year-end 2005 average of $17.61 per sf. While no new buildings broke ground in the CBD during the first quarter; Nationwide is planning their own 133,000 sf, build-to-suit property which will be located in the Arena District.

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