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PORTSMOUTH, NH-The economy may be spotty, but there has been a flurry of leasing completed in this coastal community to open 2008, including more than 75,000 sf of commitments at the Portsmouth Commerce Center. The nine-building office park is located near Interstate 95 and the Spaulding Turnpike.

“We’ve been pretty busy most of the winter,” reports Kane Co. broker Robert Marchewka, who represented the landlord in multiple transactions at the Portsmouth Commerce Center along with colleague Margot McKean. The deals featured a renewal for nearly 30,000 sf by Irving Oil Co. at 170 and 190 Commerce Way where the Canadian based petroleum giant has its US marketing operations. Pannaway Technologies outgrew 215 Commerce Way and is relocating into 230 Commerce Way, signing a 10-year extension for 27,000 sf. Meanwhile, InTown Veterinary Group is taking over the Pannaway space in a 16,000-sf agreement. That 10-year lease was negotiated by McKean for owner Tain Properties LLC and Tad Lee of Colliers Meredith & Grew in Boston representing the North Andover, MA-based tenant.

The office market in Portsmouth is not as robust as in prior years, according to Marchewka, but he says the series of leases inked thus far in 2008 offers hope for weathering the national economic storm. “The growth we’ve seen has been organic, and that’s good to see,” he says. “We’ve been fortunate to have some strong tenants who are doing well.” Technology firms such as Pannaway are a key driver for Greater Portsmouth, he says, as are financial services groups including ManuLife and Liberty Mutual Insurance. In addition to the other deals, staffing firm Robert Half International leased just over 2,500 sf at 230 Commerce Way. Margaret O’Brien was agent for the tenant in that lease and McKean for the landlord.

Financial terms of the leases were not divulged, but space at the Portsmouth Commerce Center is being offered at $16 per sf triple net. Besides quick highway access, Marchewka says he believes tenants are attracted by a generous parking ratio of five spaces per 1,000 sf leased, explaining than firms in the parking-bereft downtown often turn to Portsmouth Commerce Center when expanding. Professional on-site management is another plus, he says, and relays that tenants are enthused by a capital improvements campaign about to commence. “It will be a big upgrade,” he says, one involving Portsmouth Commerce Center buildings, landscaping and utilities, plus new sidewalks to foster interaction with nearby restaurants and retail. The park has more than 400,000 sf total and approvals for another 70,000-sf building.

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