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Busy August bucks the trend.

Leasing remained strong through the normally slow mouth of August, bringing total new activity thus far this year to 12.5-mm-sf.

The top three industries in new transactions have been the usual suspects: law, financial services and not-for-profits/government.

The fourth on the list is a surprise, however, apparel manufacturers. In the first eight months of 2004, new leasing among these firms has hit over 1.1-mm-sf versus just over 800,000-sf for all of 2003.

Granted, three transactions make up the majority of that figure with Ann Taylor snagging 297,000-sf in the newly opened top-of-the-line Times Square Tower (moving closer to the garment district from its current 57th Street home), Ecko Unlimited taking 271,000-sf in Chelsea (combining several locations across the metro area) and Tommy Hilfiger signing for 205,000-sf at 601 West 26th Street (from other garment district locations).

There have been, though, close to 30 smaller tenants (less than 15,000-sf) signing deals as well this year, primarily in the garment district in the "30's and 40's" west of Sixth Avenue. These leases being made tend to include firms taking additional space as well.

Rumors have been that the garment industry was dead in New York, specifically in Manhattan, though this appears to no longer be the case.

One caveat is that these offices generally are headquarters locations, not actually "manufacturing" locations which for the most part have moved out of New York City.

Midtown saw its class A vacancy rate drop to 9.8%, the first time is has fallen below the magic 10.0% figure since February 2003 (when it slipped to 9.5%).

Activity was especially strong in Times Square where the vacancy rate dropped sharply to 10.1% from 11.7%. Class A average asking rents in Midtown edged up to $54.95/sf in August from $54.63/sf in July.

Midtown South recorded some improvement in its class A vacancy rate in August as it dropped to 8.0% from 8.3% in July.

The largest block of space remains the almost 300,000-sf available at 51 Madison Avenue (New York Life). Average asking rents remained relatively flat at $29.17/ sf, just 2 cents below the $29.19/sf recorded in July.

Progress continues to be made Downtown as well with its class A vacancy rate falling to 11.3% from 11.6% in July. This is Downtown's lowest vacancy rate since December 2001's figure of 9.6%. The class A average asking rent climbed for the fourth month in a row to $35.47/sf in August, up from $35.11/sf in July.
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Title Annotation:contracts
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2004
Previous Article:Bank expands real estate team.
Next Article:Hush-hush deal on Pennsylvania Ave.

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