A new report from a commercial real estate company says the vacancy rate in downtown Calgary continues to climb. 

In its second-quarter analysis, Cresa said 21.6 per cent of the office space in the core is currently vacant. In June the company pegged vacancies at about 20 per cent and said "ghost vacancies" could push that number as high as 25 per cent

"You know really you're getting it from all fronts and we were able to skate through it over the last 10 to 15 years, just because demand kept up with supply. But now we're seeing those go in very opposite directions," said Cresa real estate agent Adam Hayes. 

New buildings, bad economy

Thanks to the combination of a slumping economy and new developments in the core, the report says numbers are expected to climb into next year.

There's a silver lining for companies that are in a position to negotiate new leases, since a couple of soon-to-be-completed downtown towers will put more downward pressure on rent prices, Hayes told the Calgary Eyeopener

"Good news for tenants, if you're lucky enough to have an expiry date between, say, today and 24 to 36 months from now, the window of opportunity is going to be wide open," he said. 

Justin Smith

Justin Smith with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce said it will take some time for vacancy rates to return to normal in Calgary's core. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Justin Smith with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce said a comfortable vacancy rate is around 10 per cent.

"What you have to look at is the absorption rate of all of that new real estate. And that doesn't happen as soon as commodity prices improve, or as soon as the unemployment rate starts to decline," he said.

Hayes and Smith both said it's going to take years for the vacancy rate to return to normal. 

With files from Andrew Brown