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WAKEFIELD, MA-Aiming to improve on a slow beginning to 2008, the Route 128 North office market is gaining a bit of momentum with a lease signing of 18,000 sf at the Harvard Mills business park, which is owned by Taurus New England Investments. Located in downtown Wakefield, the property is welcoming ProspectivDirect from its Woburn address to 20 Harvard Mills.

“The relocation allows ProspectivDirect to address its current and future expansion needs, and provides Taurus with another high-quality tenant at this signature location,” says Peter Carbone of Boston-based Taurus New England Investments in announcing the pact. “We are pleased that ProspectivDirect has decided on our building as its home for years to come.” Terms of the deal were not provided, but CB Richard Ellis reports that the average asking rate for the Route 128 North submarket is $25.73 per sf.

CBRE principal Mark Reardon negotiated terms for the landlord, while Edward Carbone of Carbone Real Estate handled the assignment for ProspectivDirect, a provider of on-line marketing services. Harvard Mills is a fully renovated complex containing 233,000-sf of first class office space and featuring brick-and-beam finishes, oversized windows and efficient floor plates. The property has its own parking garage and also abuts a commuter rail line connecting directly to Downtown Boston.

According to CBRE, first quarter leasing activity in the 16.4-million-sf Route 128 North office market dropped off significantly after a robust 2007. The submarket posted just 15,000 sf of positive net absorption for the quarter, keeping the vacancy rate relatively static at 17.3%.

Other areas of the Metro North submarket tracked by CBRE were even more sluggish, as the firm reported negative net absorption of 120,000 sf in the Route 3 North corridor. The Interstate 495 North submarket had the best performance at plus-79,000-sf for the quarter. The results for Metro North were far more subdued compared to the positive net absorption of 670,000 sf during 2007, and CBRE indicates in its report that new supply from either speculative construction or buildings coming available such as 296 Concord Rd. in Billerica were the main catalyst for the depressed absorption results.

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