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PHOENIX-As the economy continues its sluggish movement, the area-wide industrial market is also behaving sluggishly, with vacancies on the increase. Experts tell GlobeSt.com they don’t anticipate much change in the near term, though there are small slivers of optimism in the current trends.

Colliers International’s Knowledge Report puts overall vacancy in the industrial market at 17.5% out of a total inventory of 227.7 million square feet. The year-to-date absorption is just over -4 million square feet. CB Richard Ellis’ numbers showed a 15.8% vacancy rate out of a 268.7 million inventory and a year-to-date absorption of more than -4 million square feet. Meanwhile, concessions are solidly entrenched in any deal these days, with the average being one month of free rent for every year of term.

Mike Parker, senior vice president of industrial properties for Colliers International’s Scottsdale office says there’s a dubious bright spot in the figures, however. “The absorption posted, -940,000 square feet during the last quarter, is a good trend in the fact that during the two previous quarters, we were looking at a -2 million-square-foot absorption,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s showing signs of slowing, which hopefully means the worst is over.”

Though the statistics appear dismal, Parker says people are starting to get out there and make decisions; meaning tenants are at least looking. CBRE senior vice president of industrial Wentis agrees, but only to a point. “We’ve seen larger companies out there, kicking around the marketplace,” comments Wentiss, who works in the company’s Phoenix office. The bright spot, he goes on to say, is the solar industry, thanks to alternative fuel taxes passed by the Arizona Legislature and growth of the alternative fuels industry. “During the first part of 2010, we’ll see more of that solidified, and that’s a positive for our marketplace,” Wentis remarks.

It doesn’t mean that industrial is anywhere near out of the woods, however. While Parker believes that things could start to turn around as early as next year, Wentis believes that a turnaround won’t be possible until jobs are created. It’s anyone’s guess, he explains, when that will be. Both brokers acknowledge that “the bottom” isn’t too far away, though Wentis remarks that the market likely won’t know when bottom has hit until it’s passed and things are improving.

Wentis and Parker have advice for property owners and managers during the current situation, however. Parker advises landlords to make deals, keep tenants happy and accept the fact it will be a tenant’s market at least through 2010. Wentis, in the meantime, suggests that landlords do what they can to both manage expenses and properties to the best of their capabilities.

“You’ll lose tenants for a variety of reasons; they expand, they’re bought out or they go bankrupt,” Wentis says. “You shouldn’t lose one because of mismanagement of a property, especially in this marketplace.”

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