Down but not out

Downtown office market begins bounce back

People who have lived and worked in Calgary for a long time know that the downtown office market is a great barometer of what’s happening in the city’s overall economy.

For the past couple of years, record vacancy rates in the heart of the city have made headline news, not only in Calgary, but nationally.

However, a recent report by commercial real estate firm Avison Young suggests we’ve hit the bottom and there’s nowhere to go but up.

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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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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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Suburban resilience

Commercial market outside the core still active

Calgary’s suburban commercial market is bucking the trend and chugging along in the face of Alberta’s current economic downturn, say industry experts.

“The perception is that all commercial real estate is facing challenging times, but the reality is our industrial market and our suburban office market and our retail market are very resilient,” said Colliers International managing director and broker Joe Binfet.

“And, while I wouldn’t say robust, I would say active.”

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Five things about Calgary’s commercial office market

By the numbers

With much of the news coming out of Calgary’s commercial market negative, especially for many of those that once toiled away in one of the city’s many office towers, the future of downtown Calgary is, in many ways, up in the air. Adding to the uncertainty are several new office towers set to be added to downtown Calgary in the coming months. CREB®Now looks at some of the numbers coming out of Calgary’s evolving skyline.

16%
Inversely tied to the declining price of oil, the vacancy rate in Calgary’s office market has increased from around six per cent in 2014 to a once unfathomable 18 per cent in 2016, according to commercial real estate firm Colliers International.

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