Under the radar

Industrial real estate market hopes to maintain momentum in 2018

When it comes to the Calgary commercial real estate market, downtown office space grabs all the headlines.
Just like in sports, where star players occupy the limelight and grinders are often overlooked, the struggles of the downtown office market continue to dominate discussions of commercial real estate, while the industrial sector has quietly weathered the economic storm over the past three years.

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Making a comeback

Calgary’s commercial real estate market could be poised for a rebound in 2018

All eyes will be on Calgary’s commercial real estate market this year, with hopes that the downtown office sector, which continued to struggle in 2017, will rebound in 2018.

The office market has grabbed everyone’s attention over the past three years, as vacancy rates have soared to historically high levels following the collapse of oil prices and the subsequent waves of layoffs that ravaged employment ranks in downtown Calgary. Thousands of people were cut loose, and a vast amount of office space suddenly became vacant in the downtown core.

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Pop-up goes the store

Calgary retailers making the most of high vacancy rate

Calgary commercial experts say local retailers are becoming increasingly savvy in their fight for market share, challenging the traditional brick-and-mortar concept of doing business in favour of a pop-up model.

‘‘I do think the trend is becoming more popular because of online shopping,” said Barclay Street Real Estate retail associate Amy McGregor, who is working with Calgary Economic Development to research pop-up shops and facilitate a process for new business owners by connecting with landlords.

“Online retailers kind of want to dip their toe in the retail market and it’s a low investment way to do that. There’s more opportunity and more likelihood that landlords will give them the opportunity for the shorter-term leases.”

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Poised for growth

Calgary’s industrial market shows signs of turning the corner

While Calgary’s downtown office sector and its plunging vacancy rates overshadowed all commercial real estate activity in 2016, the city’s industrial market has better weathered the storm and is poised to grow in 2017, say experts.

According to Barclay Street Real Estate, vacancy for the industrial real estate sector finished 2016 at 7.76 per cent. It had peaked at 7.8 per cent in the third quarter of the year. In 2015, it was 6.57 per cent.

“Absorption was a negative 127,373 square feet for Q3. This was the only quarter of negative absorption we have had since the ’90s,” said Jon Mook, executive vice-president of Barclay Street Real Estate’s industrial division.

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Positive traction

Real estate officials expect conditions to support turnaround in downtrodden commercial market

Calgary’s commercial real estate market is showing signs it is finally moving on from tough economic conditions that sent vacancy rates soaring and rents plummeting over the past two years, say officials.

‘‘There is a sense in the market that the worst is behind us and that conditions will gradually improve,” said Joe Binfet, managing director/broker of Colliers International in Calgary.

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