Cushman & Wakefield released its mid-year MarketBeat research that tracks the performance of the commercial real estate market in Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs.

For the second consecutive quarter, absorption in Boston was negative, but asking rents are still rising. The large blocks that have come online this year are largely attributable to tenants relocating into new construction.  However, supply is exceeding demand in some submarkets and the performance of asking rents is not reflective of current conditions.  This is a trend we are watching carefully.

In Cambridge, the second quarter of 2017 was more of the same – continually rising rents and virtually no availability. However, a number of notable lab deals were executed this quarter – Momenta Pharmaceuticals and Synlogic backfilled Ironwood’s space at 301 Binney Street and GlaxoSmithKline committed to 42,000 SF at 200 Cambridgepark Drive.

And in the suburbs, new construction and life science activity continues to steal headlines. 490 Arsenal Way in Watertown delivered this quarter – providing an alternative to tenants getting squeezed and priced out of Cambridge.  While in Lexington, Wave Life Sciences moved into 115 Hartwell Avenue – a 95,000 SF lab building that delivered in April.

Boston

  • At (84,278) SF YTD, Boston ended a second consecutive quarter in negative territory.
    • Big deals like Amazon (253 Summer Street) and Reebok (21-25 Drydock Avenue) grab the headlines, but they are not large enough to balance the availabilities left behind by tenants moving into new construction.
      • Cengage Learning is currently in the market – its 88,000 SF at 10 Channel Center became available this quarter.
      • This is in addition to 72,000 SF of Boston Consulting Group space (1 Beacon Street), 80,000 SF of Sapient space (131 Dartmouth Street) and 200,000 SF of Partners space (1 Constitution Center and 500 Washington Street) that came online last quarter.
  • This time last year, it appeared asking rents might begin to level off. However, it has become apparent that they’re still rising – particularly in the Financial District where they have jumped 6.0% in the past 6 months – to $57.72 PSF.
  • An industry we’re keeping an eye on is financial services. While it has traditionally anchored downtown Boston,  we are hearing from some financial services firms that SEC regulations, coupled with a move from actively managed funds to passively managed funds, means that many finance jobs could become extinct in the next decade. Obviously this impacts Boston tenants overall – and the Financial District specifically.

Cambridge

  • Both office and lab vacancy rates ended the second quarter at 3.8%. While this represents a slight uptick quarter-over-quarter, it is by no means reflective of eroding conditions.
  • It’s not a new story, but both office and lab rents continue to climb. At $68.52 PSF and $69.21 PSF NNN, asking rents have increased 2.0% for office space and 4.5% for lab space in the past 60 days.
  • As a result of continuous rent increases (especially in the white hot lab market), we are beginning to see Cambridge tenants in the market explore options in the inner suburbs – particularly in recently completed speculative buildings like 490 Arsenal Way, Watertown (Linx) and 80 Guest Street, Brighton (Boston Landing).

Suburbs

In the suburbs, combined office and R&D absorption totaled 717,500 SF year-to-date (YTD) – up significantly from a year ago when absorption totaled (500,000) SF YTD.

  • The most notable transaction of the quarter was Dana Farber’s 140,000 SF lease at 300 Boylston Street – the site of the former Atrium Mall. The facility serves as an extension of the Longwood Medical Area and, after extensive renovations in 2016, is now completely occupied by Dana Farber.
  • Other notable deals were executed by Mimecast (79,000 SF at 191 Spring Street, Lexington), Mitre (44,000 SF at 201 Burlington Road, Bedford) and Aspect Software (30,000 SF at 5 Technology Park Drive, Westford).
  • With the delivery of 490 Arsenal Way in Watertown (and 80 Guest Street, Brighton in Q4 2016), asking rents in the Inner Suburbs have climbed 35% in the past 12 months to $41.64 PSF.

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm that helps clients transform the way people work, shop, and live. Our 45,000 employees in more than 70 countries help occupiers and investors optimize the value of their real estate by combining our global perspective and deep local knowledge with an impressive platform of real estate solutions. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest commercial real estate services firms with revenue of $6 billion across core services of agency leasing, asset services, capital markets, facility services (C&W Services), global occupier services, investment & asset management (DTZ Investors), project & development services, tenant representation, and valuation & advisory. 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Cushman & Wakefield brand. 100 years of taking our clients’ ideas and putting them into action. To learn more, visit www.cushwakecentennial.com, www.cushmanwakefield.com or follow @CushWake on Twitter.