U.S. office leasing for business districts reaches four-year high

Office leasing in the U.S. hit a four-year high in 2011, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s national year-end statistics for Central Business Districts, released today.

The square footage of new leases signed last year totaled 76.5 million square feet, up 17.4 percent from 65.2 million square feet in 2010, and the highest total since 2007. Of the 30 CBD office markets tracked by Cushman, 21 reported an increase in new leases signed in 2011. Downtown Manhattan was among the markets which experienced the greatest increase in leasing volume year-over-year.

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“While there were certainly a significant number of large transactions signed in 2011, a great deal of this increase in leasing activity can be attributed to the sentiment of the market,” said Maria Sicola, executive managing director of research for Cushman. “We’ve hit bottom in a majority of cities in the U.S. and tenants took the initiative to either trade up or expand before rents increase substantially.”

Absorption totaled 12.9 million square feet nationwide, up significantly from 2.2 million square feet of absorption in 2010, the statistics show. — Katherine Clarke