Downtown Ottawa office vacancies create buyer's market

Downsizing and consolidating of federal government departments has created a buyers market for prospective tenants as downtown Ottawa commercial vacancy rates have risen considerably in the last year.

Vacancy rate 11.1 per cent in downtown core in fourth quarter of 2013

Kelvin Holmes, managing director at Colliers International's Ottawa office, said prospective tenants are in the driver's seat right now. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

Downsizing and consolidating of federal government departments has created a buyers market for prospective tenants as downtown Ottawa commercial vacancy rates have risen considerably in the last year.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, commercial vacancies were nearly 1.8 million — or 11.1 per cent of the close to 16 million commercial real estate units in the downtown core, according to real estate company Collier's Ottawa.

That represents a significant rise from the same quarter a year ago, when only 6.7 per cent of downtown units were vacant.

The result is what Kelvin Holmes with Collier's calls "a very healthy tenants market."

"If you're out on the street looking for space right now you're in the drivers seat," said Holmes.

New tenants could liven up city says broker

While downtown space is up, vacancy rates have declined in the suburbs, according to Colliers' figures.

Darren Fleming with commercial real estate broker Cresa said some office buildings on Metcalfe Street have so many vacancies they resemble Swiss cheese.

But he said the departure of the federal government to the suburbs and the potential influx of more high tech companies and condos will diminish the downtown's homogeneous feel.

"There's an opportunity to create a real vibrant sector in the core other than the federal government and that's been kind of lacking," said Fleming.

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