CBRE: Increase in Class A Office Space, Creative Space in CBD is Imminent

The first quarter of 2013 Office OccupierView, a report by the CBRE Group, suggests that occupiers are showing an increased preference for both Class A office space in central business districts and creative space, typically characterized by large floor plates with open configurations.

The first quarter of 2013 Office OccupierView, a report by the CBRE Group, Inc., suggests that occupiers are showing an increased preference for both Class A office space in central business districts and creative space, typically characterized by large floor plates with open configurations.

“Corporate occupiers continue to be more efficient with their real estate in this slow-growth economy,” Brook Scott, CBRE’s head of Americas occupier research, global research and consulting, told Commercial Property Executive. “CBRE is seeing a marked decline in the office square foot per worker, to 160-200 square feet per person from 225-230 square feet. Companies are making a concerted effort to consolidate space and shrink their overall office footprint.” 

The report shows that technology and energy companies are increasing their demand for space, offsetting the trend toward consolidation among financial services firms and government agencies and defense contractors impacted by automatic federal budget cuts under sequestration.

Occupiers are also seeking urban locations in proximity to public transportation, housing, restaurants and nightlife to attract and retain younger, knowledgeable workers. This has created more of a demand for CBD office space in Atlanta, Boston and Washington, D.C., and is driving up rents for Class A space in Boston and Denver.

“Companies are moving into the downtowns of major office markets to be closer to the amenities that urban environments offer,” Scott said. “As labor markets tighten and the ‘war for talent’ heats up, it is increasingly important for occupiers to be located near amenities desired by younger knowledge workers, such as public transportation, housing, restaurants and night-life.”

According to Scott, demand for creative space that facilitates this collaboration and interaction continues to take hold in major markets across the country.

“Creative industries such as media and entertainment, architecture & engineering and advertising companies are placing a premium on ‘creative space’ characterized by open floor plans, natural light and brick-and-beam construction,” Scott added. “Creative space that fosters collaboration helps to spur innovation, so important as our economy moves away from manufacturing, low-wage jobs to high-wage, knowledge and creative jobs.”

The report notes that an anemic pace of new construction in recent years is paving the way for an acceleration of rent growth citing modest numbers for delivery of completed office projects during the first quarter of 2013. Currently, there is 16.6 million square feet of new office space under under construction in downtown major markets, with another 17.8 million square feet expected to break ground over the next two years.

Looking ahead, Scott expects more markets to favor owners at this point in the cycle, making it difficult for occupiers to maintain a strong negotiating position.

“Despite the more efficient use of space among corporate occupiers, we expect to see a continued decline in the overall vacancy rate and a slight increase in rents as moderate job growth increases demand for office space,” Scott concluded. “We do not see meaningful levels of new office construction.”