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TAMPA, FL-The Tampa Bay area office sector appears to have stabilized through the third quarter, and that’s actually good news. After seeing several quarters of increasing vacancy, the overall rate appears to have leveled off at 20%, with asking rents averaging close to $22 per square foot through the third quarter, according to various brokerages.

Local office brokers are seeing a reversal of fortune for some submarkets. For example, Westshore, the largest office district in Tampa with over 11 million square feet, still commands the highest rents at around $25 per square foot, $28 for class A space, yet has reached 21% vacancy after being in single digits only a few years ago.

Meanwhile, the East Tampa/Interstate 75 submarket, which previously soared into the 30% vacancy range, has fallen back to around 20% as of the third quarter. Asking rents there are keeping pace with the areawide average, at roughly $22 per square foot.

Westshore remains a concern among many brokers, as landlords scramble to renew leases with tenants that are looking to either reduce their space needs or relocate to buildings with more favorable rental rates. But brokers do expect an increase in leasing activity next year, with space inquiries already picking up in the fourth quarter.

“Westshore will lead the other submarkets out of this and will regain its standing as the top market in the Tampa Bay area,” Paula Buffa, senior vice president of the office group with Grubb & Ellis

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