Ottawa’s downtown office vacancy rate reaches all-time high

Ottawa recorded its highest-ever downtown office vacancy rate in the first quarter of this year, a new report says.

Real estate firm CBRE said 13.2 per cent of the city’s downtown office space was vacant last quarter. It’s part of a national trend: Canada’s national office vacancy rate hit an all-time high, according to CBRE.

The office sector is undergoing a “once-in-a-generation evolution, with tenants seeking to adjust to hybrid work and office landlords striving to maintain their appeal,” CBRE said in a news release. “The result is a sector in flux and greater separation forming between uninspired older offices and well-amenitized modern spaces.”

In Ottawa, tenants are in a favourable position, with landlords offering large inducements to attract new deals. The CBRE notes that the federal government’s order that employees return to office work part-time will play a role in private sector decision-making in the coming month.

It’s the third straight quarter that Ottawa’s office market has slowed.

The country’s overall office vacancy rate amounted to 17.7 per cent, while downtown office vacancies sat at 18.4 per cent and the suburban rate landed at 16.8 per cent.

Montreal recorded its all-time highest downtown office vacancy rate at 16.5 per cent.

Toronto’s downtown office vacancy rate reached 15.3 per cent, the highest level Canada’s largest office market has seen since 1995.

Vancouver’s downtown office vacancy rate rose to 10.4 per cent, the highest it’s been since 2004.

“The office market is in the midst of an evolution that is analogous to what the retail sector experienced over the past decade,” CBRE Canada Chairman Paul Morassutti said in the release.

With files from The Canadian Press

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