1 Corporate Drive Shelton/Image courtesy of R.D. Scinto Inc.

Fairfield County’s office market showed signs of recovery in the third quarter, as leasing activity approached pre-pandemic levels and the availability rate edged downward.

The 40.6-million-square-foot county-wide office inventory registered 250,000 square feet of positive absorption in the third quarter, CBRE reported.

Hedge fund Citadel’s expansion and renewal for 78,000 square feet at 33 Benedict Place in downtown Greenwich topped the largest transactions of the quarter, while fund manager Franklin Templeton Cos. renewed 79,000 square feet at 100 First Stamford Place in downtown Stamford.

The 469,000 square feet of leasing activity during the quarter is just 2 percent below the five-year quarterly average, CBRE reports. Activity remains strongest outside of central business districts, but tenants continue to prefer higher-end properties.

“Despite the shift to more suburban submarkets, leasing remained concentrated in class A space, which accounted for nearly 70 percent of all leasing in the third quarter,” U.S. Head of Field Research & Data Nicole LaRusso wrote in this week’s report.

The availability rate dropped 0.7 percent from the previous quarter to 27 percent, but remains 0.8 percent higher than the third quarter of 2021.

The 6.3-million-square-foot Fairfield East market had the busiest quarter with 121,000 square feet of leasing during the quarter.

Asking rents now average $35.48 per square foot countywide, with Greenwich’s central business district topping all submarkets with average rents of $90.39 per square foot.

Other major leases signed during the third quarter included 65,000 square feet by Frame It Easy at 35 Nutmeg Drive in Trumbull, a 44,000-square-foot renewal and expansion by Prudential at 1 Corporate Drive in Shelton and a 30,000-square-foot renewal by Jones Family office at 1 American Lane in Greenwich.