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NORTH READING, MA-An 88,000-sf office building situated here just off Interstate 93 has secured a tenant to take nearly 60,000 sf of vacant space, as Paychex Inc. has committed to 100 RiverPark Dr. The Rochester, NY-based payroll services firm is relocating its regional operations from the Metro North Corporate Center in nearby Woburn.

“That deal did close,” one source tells GlobeSt.com of the seven-year lease, that leaves just a 3,000-sf sliver still available in the building, which is owned by Columbia Construction Co. The veteran contractor also occupies roughly 25,000 sf in the nine-year-old property, part of a multi-building business complex at the Concord St. exit of Interstate 93. CB Richard Ellis is exclusive leasing agent for 100 Riverpark Dr., with principals Mark Reardon and Jason Levendusky said to have negotiated the Paychex lease on behalf of the landlord. Calls to CBRE to discuss the pact were not returned by press deadline.

North Reading has emerged during the past 15 years as an established suburban Boston business address, a transformation fueled by development of the 800,000-sf Riverpark complex in the early 1990s. The blockbuster move of Lotus Development Corp. from Cambridge to Riverpark in 1992 further legitimized North Reading, which has continued to lure cost-conscious tenants seeking relief from the hot Route 128 office sector. That migration has benefited other communities along the I-93 North corridor such as Wilmington and Andover, bringing in a diverse mix of corporate, defense and life sciences companies to the submarket.

The Paychex pact offers hope for a brisk second quarter after the I-93 North submarket opened 2008 with a solid opening frame. According to a Q1 survey by DTZ FHO Partners, the submarket including North Reading enjoyed 297,000 sf of positive net absorption, helping to drop the vacancy rate from 22.2% at year end 2007 to 19.2%. CBRE puts the vacancy for the Metro North region at 18.1% and recorded Q1 net absorption of 78,000 sf in the first three months of the year. While lower than the DTZ FHO figure, CBRE says Metro North had 675,000 sf of positive net absorption in 2007.

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