Wilton commercial lease one of largest in last quarter

WILTON — ASML’s leasing transaction for space at 50 Danbury Road in Wilton was the second-largest leasing transaction in Fairfield County for the fourth quarter of 2019. The company, which is Wilton’s largest employer, leased 98,907 square feet.

The largest transaction was for 415,266 square feet at 677 Washington Boulevard in Stamford by the WWE. The third largest also occurred in Stamford, Sema4’s 58,566-square-foot expansion at 333 Ludlow Street.

Despite these transactions and a strong labor market, Fairfield County still saw a modest dip in year-over-year leasing activity according to a report from Cushman & Wakefield. Asking rents also dipped in the fourth quarter, the report said. County-wide, overall average asking rents declined by $0.95 per square foot, ending 2019 at $31.52 per square foot.

Conversely, leasing activity increased overall year-over-year for Westchester County in the fourth quarter, and there has been an increase in prices.

In Fairfield County, employment numbers surged past previous record highs in 2019, increasing by 3,210 jobs over the last 12 months. December marked the ninth consecutive month of rising total employment and nonfarm payrolls were up by 609 jobs since the fourth quarter of 2018, the report said.

Several industries fared better than others. Education and healthcare services saw the largest year-over-year increase in employment by adding approximately 1,738 jobs, followed by the information sector, which added approximately 408 jobs over the last 12 months. The unemployment rate decreased 20 basis points (bps) over the last year to 3.5 percent.

Despite this positive momentum, overall leasing activity in Fairfield County fell short from last year by more than 400,000 square feet, registering slightly over 2.2 million square feet in new transactions. Overall demand in 2018, however, was inflated by one large notable transaction, which accounted for 20.3 percent of county-wide annual demand.

Norwalk registered the largest year-over-year increase in overall vacancy by 750 basis points to 35 percent, which was predominately the result of FactSet’s former space at Merritt 7 becoming available. Greenwich also registered a notable uptick in supply with significant large sublease opportunities becoming available in its central business district.

In Fairfield County overall, vacancy dropped when compared to time last year from 31.8 percent to 28.4 percent.