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LANDOVER, MD-Merkle Inc. is vacating 80,000 sf at Metro East Business Campus here. It is leaving the Prince George’s county submarket next summer to move to a 130,000 sf build-to-suit facility in Columbia, MD, according to David Fisher, SVP and regional managing director of Advance Realty Group’s Washington, DC, region. Advance owns 8400 Corporate Dr., the five-story, 149,170-sf building where Merkle is currently based.

Fisher is optimistic about the building’s prospects. Already, he tells GlobeSt.com, the firm has identified a couple of qualified prospects to fill the space.

Still, though, in a submarket that has a 27% vacancy rate and that is located in a county with a 17% vacancy rate, the news is not good for the area, says Tonya Ginter, director of research & marketing for GVA Advantis. “There are only 38 buildings in Landover, or 2.9 million sf of inventory, so any one vacancy will hurt,” she tells GlobeSt.com. Also, the vacancy rate in Landover has been rising precipitously since 2004, when it was only 12%. Prince George’s county’s vacancy rate is, overall, 17%.

Metro East Business Campus, though, may be an exception, at least judging from Advance Realty’s experiences in the park, which owns a nine building portfolio there. Last year the 135,000-sf 8301 Professional Pl. was vacated when Lucent moved its operations to India. Advance spent about $20 per sf on capital improvements to reposition the building, an investment that paid off as it then filled the space with four 10-year leases from the Miter Corp., a non profit association, Giant Food of Maryland and Mirant MidAtlantic, Fisher says.

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