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Office leasing in Hartford County declined 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, while the handful of tenants that remained active in the market gravitated toward high-end buildings.

Companies inked just 180,000 square feet of leases across the 26 million-square-foot metro market, CBRE reported. Class A buildings captured 83 percent of the leasing activity in the quarter, continuing a post-pandemic trend. 

The availability rate declined slightly to 27.6 percent, while direct vacancies ended the year only slightly lower at 27.4 percent.

Few office employers committed to significant real estate deals in the city of Hartford, led by an 11,000-square-foot lease by law firm McCalla, Raymer, Leibert & Pierce at 280 Trumbull St. 

The quarter’s five largest transactions by square-footage were all located in the suburbs. Great American Insurance Group’s 33,025-square-foot renewal and expansion at 5 Waterside Crossing in Windsor was the largest lease of the fourth quarter.

The 4.5 million-square-foot Hartford North submarket along the Interstate 91 corridor ended the year with the highest vacancy and availability rates, both nearly 59 percent.

“The combination of continued economic momentum with the likelihood that the Fed’s dramatic tightening cycle is now complete makes a soft landing appear more likely for early 2024, but the pace of growth will be more modest than in recent quarters,” CBRE researchers stated in the report released today.

For the full year, the metro area market recorded 73,000 square feet of negative absorption. Rents rose 4 percent year-over-year to $20.46 per square foot.