- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Washington D.C. office vacancy rate has been among the lowest in the nation for several years now, and some analysts have hinted that things may change if construction of new space doesn’t slow down.

Recent reports, however, suggest that those fears are unfounded and that the District will remain one of the most stable office markets in the country.

The vacancy rate of office space in the District after the third quarter was 7.9 percent, lower than any other city, according to several real estate services firms.

Two things have made real estate analysts nervous: slow job growth in the D.C. area and a construction boom expected to create nearly 900,000 square feet of office space. Without job growth, how can that much space be filled?

The District may see a slight rise in vacancy by the end of the year, but many real estate analysts say a collapse of the office sector in the District is unlikely.

For one thing, job growth will at least stay flat because of the stabilizing presence of the federal government and law firms.

Second, much of the office space opening in 2004 and 2005 is preleased, ensuring that new buildings will not sit half-empty.

Cushman and Wakefield, a District-based real estate service firm, said in a report last week that it expects corporate earnings to rise next year, which will create more jobs in the private sector.

The company also said it has seen positive news in smaller submarkets of the District, such as the East End of downtown, where tenants are starting to take on more space.

D.C. housing expo

The District’s big push to attract thousands of new residents will continue tomorrow with an expo designed to show off the city’s housing stock.

The “City Living, D.C. Style! Expo” will feature seminars describing all housing options in the District, plus discussion of mortgages and homeownership programs offered by the city. In some instances, prospective residents will have the chance to be pre-approved for a mortgage loan at the expo.

The District has emphasize housing options in many of the redeveloping neighborhoods in the city, including Columbia Heights, Anacostia and Southwest.

Officials hope to dispel the notion that the District is too expensive by marketing the more affordable homes.

In other news…

• Speedway Rock LLC announced it will construct a new one-story, 60,000 square-foot office building at the Dorsey Business Center in Elkridge, Md. NAI KLNB will oversee leasing activities for the new project.

• Cityline at Tenley, a mixed-use project at 4500 Wisconsin Ave. NW, will be built with condominiums instead of rental units, developers Roadside Development and Madison Marquette said.

The condominiums are expected to be finished in the fall of 2004, with the first units occupied in winter of that same year.

• Silverwood Associates Inc. completed the redevelopment of the Lafayette Apartments in Fairfax County.

The apartments add 340 units to the county’s affordable-housing stock.

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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