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4 Downtown Calgary Office Buildings Empty As Vacancy Rises: Report

A new report from Avison Young shows that the economic downturn has left more offices in downtown Calgary vacant, but experts believe the relocation doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

The report found that four downtown buildings are completely empty and another five are mostly unoccupied, which is unusual for Alberta’s largest city.

While these statistics may seem alarming, Calgary Economic Development said that it could actually be a positive way of attracting potential renters.

“When you have all of the contiguous space together it is sometimes easier to sell, especially to companies that are moving in here and have high growth potential,” said Mary Moran, CEO of Calgary Economic Development.

The report found that smaller businesses with 50 or fewer employees are moving in and taking over land that was once dominated by oil and gas giants.

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The shift means offices are innovating by creating smaller spaces and removing several floors from a company.

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The tech sector recently showed interest in a move to downtown Calgary, which would help diversify and make business in the city more dynamic.

Calgary Economic Development said while this is good news, the city has an inordinate amount of office space compared to other cities with a similar population base.

“If you put it on a per capita basis, we should have a population of around four million people to support the amount of office space we have,” Moran said.

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She added that this is just the beginning as large companies like Suncor are announcing layoffs in Calgary and this issue is not being fixed anytime soon.

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Calgary’s downtown office market sees a positive trend: Avison Young

The vacancy rate in downtown Calgary has risen to 25.7 percent, with the city-wide vacancy rate standing at 23.5 percent.

Aside from downtown, most of the vacant office space is in the Beltline, where two of the 109 office buildings are completely empty while four are more than three-quarters empty.

The report states that Calgary’s unemployment rate is the highest in Canada and construction is at a low point. The rest of the industrial market will still have to weather this storm.

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