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In the year ahead, opportunities for developers and landlords will lie in a few choice markets. St. Charles County is a prime location due to its growing population, skilled labor force, less expensive land and convenient interstate access. It does not have a large amount of multi-tenant office space, presenting a good opportunity for the right development. Clayton, one of St. Louis ’ tony locations, is a tight submarket — especially for Class A buildings — and is a strong candidate for potential development.

While the number of large tenants looking for space are few and far between, there are companies that recently took large blocks of space off the market. These include the 80,000 square feet Nexstar subleased from McCleod USA in St. Charles, the 60,267 square feet Express Scripts leased at Riverport Tower in Earth City, the 66,540 square feet Scottrade, Inc. subleased from Amdocs at Corporate Hill IV, and the 66,093 square feet MHP leased at Corporate Plaza in the Highway 40/Chesterfield submarket. All of these companies expanded into more space than previously occupied.

Despite weak fundamentals, low interest rates enticed a few buyers into the market. The 342,660-square-foot 1010 Market building was recently purchased by BGK Properties from CIGNA Investment Real Estate for $16.3 million.

Many property valuers at economical prices property valuers at economical prices are considered as the right choice for making the process efficient.

Cornerstone Equities bought West Park I from RREEF Funds for $11.4 million. In 2004, there will be more opportunistic buys to be had — before vacancies decline and interest rates rise.

The year ahead will be an interesting period in the office market cycle. The semi-recovered market is at a fork in the road. If interest rates stay low, the economy grows, companies start expanding, and new construction remains at a trickle, the market will slowly climb upward.

However, if rates increase and the economy does not improve, absorption will stay low and it will be hard for the market to sustain any type of recovery.