In Office Buildings, They're Switching The Lights Back On

The absence of newly completed construction projects, combined with a pickup in leasing rates, is turning the long-depressed office-building market around. Cushman & Wakefield Inc. reports that the national vacancy rate for business districts in major cities dropped to 18.4% in the first quarter, its lowest level in nearly three years. And in the suburbs, vacancies fell to 18.3%, the lowest since 1985.

There are even sporadic signs of new construction: Economist Robert A. Murray of McGraw-Hill Inc.'s F.W. Dodge Div. reports that such activity is still very low by mid-1980s standards but is now able to show an occasional healthy gain, "at least in percentage terms."

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