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Metro area office leasing shows strength

A new report says the Baltimore metropolitan area had above-average growth last year, with an increase in payroll employment of 19,500 positions and a slight increase in rents for commercial and office leasing.

The report by the Virginia-based private research group Delta Associates was released Friday.

The group said that in the final quarter of 2013, the Baltimore metropolitan area’s economy experienced stronger growth patterns than in 2012, with office vacancy rates at 11.9 percent, lower than the 12.7 percent rates of 2012. Investment sales totaled $392 million in 2013, or $137 per square foot, compared with $201 million, or $112 per square foot, during 2012.

The researchers, who said they wrote their report in consultation with realty leasing giant Transwestern, also found that the local education and health sectors as well as the federal workforce helped to boost the local economy in 2013.

Looking forward, the Delta Associates researchers predicted slow growth in 2014 in certain commercial construction commitments as the market remains cautious, the report says.

Last year’s vacancy rate in the metro area dipped slightly when compared with 2012, causing the average Class A office space leasing rents to increase 1.2 percent.

The report also said discounted offers for office space in the Baltimore central business district in 2014 could result in higher leasing downtown.

Net absorption of commercial office space totaled 268,000 square feet in the final quarter of 2013, the report said.

Overall, the net absorption rate for the year closed out at 1.3 million square feet, slightly below the 1.6 million square feet recorded in 2012. Last year’s results were boosted in part by leases of 130,000 square feet to Kaiser Permanente in Baltimore County and 56,700 square feet to Rohde & Schwarz USA Inc. in Columbia. The National Security Agency also leased 125,000 square feet of office space near the Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport.


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