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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-The local office of CB Richard Ellis has recently closed on 159,555 square feet of office leases in Broward County. Most of the closings took place within the Sawgrass and Cypress Creek submarkets, says Deanna Lobinsky, first vice president of asset services for CBRE, who represented the landlords in the transactions.

“We have seen tremendous activity in those markets, which have been the strongest in the county over the last six months,” Lobinsky tells GlobeSt.com. CBRE handles a total of 2.5 million square feet in Broward, of which 700,000 square feet is in the Sawgrass market where most of the leases were signed. “Even to date there are still tenants looking for in excess of several hundred thousand square feet in those markets,” she says.

The residential mix in West Broward contains a vital workforce that, despite layoffs by technology-related companies, is driving tenants to Broward as opposed to going south to Miami-Dade County or north to Palm Beach County. “It’s not so much a pricing issue because rates here have continued to hold strong,” reports Lobinsky.

The Sawgrass and Cypress Creek markets happen to have bigger blocks of space available because of unexpected vacancies related to the downturn, she explains, noting that there are more larger leases being signed during this difficult economic climate than the usual 2,500- to 5,000-square-foot deals. “Smaller tenants are not as active because they’re sitting back and seeing how things unfold with the current economic uncertainty,” she says. “I think the industries that are still doing OK economically are looking at their options and making long-term decisions where they can capitalize on current market conditions.”

The biggest of CBRE’s recently signed leases took place at PNC Realty Advisors’ building at Corporate Center I at 1551 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway in Sunrise. The tenant, Foxconn Technology Group, which designs cell phones, is new to the South Florida market and has signed a seven-year lease for 42,521 square feet. The next-largest lease took place in the Cypress Creek submarket, where Kaplan Higher Education Corp. leased 26,816 square feet for five years at Cypress Centre at 6600 N. Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. The lease is expanding on the tenant’s 100,000 square feet of holdings in the submarket, says Lobinsky. Also new to the market is tenant Borneo Management, which has leased 10,500 square feet for 10 years at Corporate Center, at 110 E Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

The remainder of the 159,555 square feet signed by the brokerage include numerous leases under 10,000 square feet, along with a renewal of 19,581 square feet by Interim Healthcare Inc. and renewal of 17,300 square feet by First American Title Insurance Co., who both decided to consolidate operations within the Sawgrass submarket, reports Lobinsky. Terms of the leases signed were not immediately available.

The Sawgrass submarket was also the site of two major leases signed that were not handled by CBRE during the third quarter. The US Drug Enforcement Administration signed 128,964 square feet at 2100-2200 N Commerce Parkway, while Research in Motion signed for 92,362 square feet at the submarket’s only building under construction, Duke Realty’s 1100 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway. As of the end of the third quarter, the Sawgrass submarket had a vacancy of 16.2%, with average triple net leasing rates at $19.84, well above the overall county rate of $18.13, reports CBRE.

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