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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ-With three quarters of 2009 in the books, Cushman & Wakefield Inc. revealed its third quarter office and industrial stats during a presentation yesterday at the Sheraton Meadowlands here. And despite some ominous employment projections, courtesy of Jim Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, the Garden State is holding its own.

According to the commercial real estate services firm, leasing is slower, but not halted. Vacancy rates are creeping up, but not soaring. Rents are falling, but not plunging. “Considering the scope of our national recession, New Jersey is doing fairly well,” noted Ken McCarthy, Cushman & Wakefield’s managing director of Research Services. “We are seeing a slow deterioration, but it is amazing, frankly, that conditions are not worse.”

At the end of the third quarter, office leasing in Northern and Central New Jersey totaled 4.7 million square feet–off from last year at this time by some 2.1 million square feet. However, 1.5 million square feet of new leases occurred during the past three months, reflecting a steady pace.

The largest office transaction of the quarter involved Savvis, Inc.’s 209,000-square-foot lease at 1919 Park Ave. in Weehawken. Other notable deals included Smiths Detection’s 75,450-square-foot commitment at 60 Columbia Tpke. in Morris Township and Solix, Inc.’s 56,230-square-foot lease at 30 Lanidex Plaza W. in Parsippany.

“Slower leasing is a function of economic weakness,” said Gil Medina, Cushman & Wakefield’s New Jersey executive managing director. “Many companies currently are focusing more on stabilizing business issues than they are on real estate.”

He continued, “As tenants become more comfortable–especially now that the worst of the recession appears to be over–we expect that they will take advantage of the softer market. Direct average asking rental rates are $24.99 per square foot, which is down $1.54 per square foot from last year at this time. This should result in stepped-up activity over the coming months.”

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