Encouraging signs appear in office leasing market despite the addition of Bank of America space

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While the big office space leasing story in 2019 came with Bank of America’s withdrawal from 500,000 square feet of space in downtown Wilmington, the firm of Newmark Knight Frank saw a number of positive signs.

The departure leaves nearly a quarter of the downtown office market vacant, according to NKF, which has an office in Wilmington.

One positive signs came in capital markets activity in the Wilmington office sector, with sales volume totaling $136.4 million, more than double 2018’s annual salesvolume.

Chemours’ office condo at the DuPont Building in downtown and a and 400 Commerce Drive south of Newark were purchased by two new-to-marketinvestors with foreign backing last quarter. In the fourth quarter, the trend continued with Washington, D.C.-based Douglas Development Corporation, acquiring its first Delaware office property, 222 Delaware Avenue in Wilmington’s CBD, for $24 million.

Areas of growth included scientific research & development and fintech, the reported noted.

In Newark, a new $38 million, 100,000-square-foot office building was announced this quarter, to be developed as part of the University of Delaware’s STAR campus and to directly cater to fintech tenants in both the public and private sector.

Also at the STAR campus, construction on Chemours’ R&D facility continued. While not an office property, its completion will further emphasize the STAR campus as a nucleus of exciting, forward- looking development, NKF noted.

Elsewhere in the market, Delaware life sciences company Incyte agreed to an additional expansion of its headquarters site in Alapocas area near Wilmington.

Incyte will develop on 20 acres at the adjoining lower school campus of the Wilmington Friends School for $50 million ($2.5 million per acre).

The market displayed a strong performance at the close of 2019, charting 63,000 square feet in net footprint at the building to more than 100,000 square feet.

Other notable transactions around the market included Synchrogenix’s relocation and slight expansion into 18,000 square feet at 2951 Centreville Road in Wilmington West, DelDOT’s occupancy of 19,000 square feet of sublease space at 248 Chapman Road in Wilmington South, and homegrown coworking operator The Mill taking occupancy of its second location in the Concord Plaza in north Wilmington.

The Mill, another good news story for Wilmington’s downtown and the market as a whole, will also expand into the entire seventh floor of the Nemours Building downtown.

The Mill is reportedly in talks to take yet another floor at the building, cementing its stature as one of the most successful and expansive coworking operations in not just the Wilmington CBD, but the region as a whole, NKF noted.

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