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BILLERICA, MA-Two leases totaling more than 40,000 sf are helping carry the momentum of a robust 2007 for the northern suburban flex/office markets into the new year. In the larger of the transactions, Aushon BioSystems is taking 21,500 sf at 43 Manning Rd., while QC Solutions is leasing 20,000 sf at 29 Dunham Rd.

“It’s more of the same,” Colliers Meredith & Grew SVP Matthew Daniels tells GlobeSt.com in reporting solid velocity present throughout the Interstate 495 North and Route 128 Northwest submarkets that converge along Route 3 in Billerica. I-495 North posted more than one million sf of positive net absorption last year whereas that figure is typically closer to 350,000 sf, says Daniels. The Route 128 Northwest submarket of 21 million sf fared even better, with CM&G tracking 2.2 million sf of positive net absorption.

Although CM&G has Billerica in the I-495 North region, Daniels says the community is close enough to Route 128 to attract prospective tenants such as Aushon BioSystems, which is relocating its global headquarters from Burlington. There has been organic growth as well, evidenced by the expansion of QC Solutions, which has been operating from a smaller facility on Linnell Circle in Billerica. Both firms signed five-year agreements. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Several factors have been cited by industry observers for the brisk leasing environment in Billerica, including a widening of Route 3 that has greatly eased congestion between the Route 128 and I-495 belts. Rising rents to the south and plentiful space in the region are also seen as draws. Despite the hyperactive leasing pace, I-495 North still has a vacancy rate of 22.9%, second highest among nine suburban submarkets surveyed by CM&G and close to the high of 23.2% seen in I-495 West. I-495 North also has the second largest supply of space in the suburbs at 24.6 million sf.

If current trends continue, however, the inventory could be quickly whittled away. Along with sizeable leases recently inked in abutting communities such as Bedford, Chelmsford and Lowell, Billerica has seen such recent agreements as a 40,000-sf commitment by NEXX Systems at 900 Middlesex Turnpike; a 38,000-sf pact at 101 Billerica Ave. by Newport Corp.; and the blockbuster 100,000-sf agreement by Parexel at 2 Federal St. in the Fields office park, a building owned by the Rreef Funds. That deal, which will be included in the 2008 leasing figures, was initially reported by GlobeSt.com in its Jan. 7th edition.

Rreef also owns the buildings where Aushon BioSystems and QC Solutions will occupy. The CM&G leasing team of Daniels, Christopher Lawrence and Tad Lee represented the tenants in both leases, while Jason Levendusky of CB Richard Ellis/New England negotiated on behalf of the landlord.

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