All Greater Boston Submarkets Log Negative Growth as Industrial Market Records Incredible Year

Cambridge Quad

BOSTON—Greater Boston’s all submarkets reported negative growths in last quarter as the Greater Boston industrial market logged another incredible quarter in Q4 2020, according to a the latest quarterly report from CBRE.

The Downtown Boston office market recorded the fourth consecutive quarter of negative growth with 1.5 million sq. ft. of negative absorption in the fourth quarter, the report said.

“The city recorded negative 3.8 million sq. ft. of negative absorption for the year, the most negative absorption recorded in a year historically,” the report said. “The Downtown Boston lab market recorded more than 615,000 sq. ft. of positive absorption in 2020. Asking rents increased significantly quarter-over-quarter to $89.51 NNN, with rents projected to continue a strong upward trajectory.”

Here are the other highlights from the CBRE report:


The Cambridge office market ended the year with 823,000 sq. ft. of negative absorption. Availability increased for the fifth consecutive quarter and ended the year at 13.4%.

The life science sector in Cambridge remained stronger than ever. Availability and vacancy both decreased across the market to 7.6% and 1.3% respectively.

Vacancy in East Cambridge dropped below 1% once again and cemented themselves comfortable in the triple digits, with the average asking rate reaching $106.06 per sq. ft. (NNN)


The Greater Boston suburban office market recorded 632,173 sq. ft. of negative absorption in Q4 2020. The vacancy rate increased by 40 basis points (bps) to 15.4% while availability increased by 60 bps to 20.5%.

The sublease rate remained flat at 2.9%, the highest rate seen in the market since Q3 2012.  The suburban lab market recorded 415,643 sq. ft. of positive absorption in the Q4 – the most growth recorded in a single quarter since CBRE started tracking suburban lab in 2003.

Lab conversion projects have been increasingly common as developers and owners see strong value and stable long-term demand for life science product.


The Greater Boston industrial market had another incredible quarter in Q4 2020, recording 1,343,175 sq. ft. of positive absorption.

This growth caps one of the best years in history for the market, which saw a total of 3,996,297 sq. ft. of positive absorption in 2020. The availability rate plummeted by 120 basis points (bps) quarter-over-quarter to 6.8%, while the vacancy rate dropped by 100 bps quarter-over-quarter to 3.8%.