Monday, February 3, 2014

High Vacancy

The CBC reports that there is a very high vacancy rate for office buildings in Saint John.  That’s not surprising when you realize there are up to 85,000 square feet available in Prince Edward Square Mall (former Wyndham space). The fact that multiple floors of City Hall are empty and for rent (now that the police are in their own building, and some court rooms have moved) hasn’t helped with vacancy rates.

According to a survey published by Tuner Drake in July 2013 Class A (highest quality buildings in the city centre) had a vacancy of 3.88%.  Class B buildings – buildings like City Hall – had 16.57% vacancy.  Class C buildings – the rest of the office market – had a vacancy rate of 39.41%  They concluded an 18.50% overall office vacancy rate.

The CBC reports that Turner Drake (a Halifax Company) is now saying that things are worse, with overall office vacancy of 20.45% and Class C vacancy of around 45%.

High vacancy could lead to a number of things. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Office space could become cheaper, leading businesses to move into better space. This could provide more opportunities for small businesses to move to bigger space. 
  • Office owners could give up and shutter low performing buildings.
  • Office space could be converted to residential space – this could happen in the city center, and perhaps even spill out into other neighbourhoods.
  • Vacant ground floor office space may be converted to retail space

What other consequences (or positive outcomes) could come from high vacancy?

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This is the account used for updating the Urban Plans for Saint John Blog.