FRANKLIN, MA-In the wake of an uneven 2007, a full-building lease to Foster-Miller Inc. is helping boost the Interstate 495 South industrial market. The manufacturing firm is taking more than 65,000 sf at 15 Forge Park, a single-story building owned by Colony Realty Partners.

“It’s a nice kick start to the year,” says Cushman & Wakefield senior director Cathy Minnerly, whose firm negotiated the deal on behalf of the landlord.Foster-Miller is restocking 15 Forge Park for the next five years following the simultaneous departure of National Grid. Although financial terms were not disclosed, one source places the rental rate above market levels, said to be more than $7 per sf.

The fast-track Foster-Miller requirement materialized late in the fourth quarter, Minnerly explains, after the firm won a contract. The tenant needed to be able to occupy the space by the start of the year, a goal complicated by a substantial power upgrade mandated by the contract. “Everyone worked really hard and contributed to get this done,” relays Minnerly, who credits Colony Realty, property manager Allyson Massengill of CB Richard Ellis and the leasing agents for accomplishing the feat. Other members of the C&W team included executive director Kevin Hanna, senior directors J.P. Plunkett and J.R. McDonald and Associate Jason Bryer. CB Richard Ellis principal James Nicoletti was broker for Foster-Miller.

Sporting a national real estate investment platform, Colony Realty Partners acquired 15 Forge Park as part of a portfolio of six buildings in Forge Park purchased last spring for $68 million. Constructed in 1991, 15 Forge Park has about 8,000 sf of office build out, 26-foot ceilings and is fully air-conditioned. “It’s nice, functional space,” says Minnerly, who reports that the property could be expanded by another 35,000 sf.

Year-end figures by Cushman & Wakefield indicate a sluggish 2007 for industrial leasing in I-495 South, a submarket where C&W tracks 35 million sf of space. Both that submarket and the Route 3 South corridor were slightly in the red on net absorption for the year, keeping the direct vacancy rate for I-495 South in double figures at 10.2%. The South market as a whole is at 8.3%, aided largely by nearly 500,000 sf of positive absorption in the Route 128 South market. According to Minnerly, however, leasing velocity picked up after a slow first half. All the major industrial parks in I-495 South are below 5% vacancy, she notes. “Things are tight right now,” she says, adding that the level of demand bodes well for the coming campaign. “I think 2008 is going to be a very good year,” she says.