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Alberta & Prairies  + Office  | 
The partners in Calgary's Telus Sky mixed-use tower are working to reorganize their ownership stakes.

Downtown Calgary Office Vacancy Painted in Different Light

Downtown Calgary office vacancy is not as high as it appears, says a Barclay Street Real Estate report.

The company said the downtown rate was 20.8% at the end of 2023. That figure contrasts sharply with other reports, that have pegged vacancy around 30%. CBRE reported that downtown office vacancy was 30.2% in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to 33.7% a year earlier.

However, Barclay Street took a different approach to measuring vacancy, The 20.8% figure is based on premises marketed as headlease space.

“The discussion we’re having is the wrong discussion about whether it’s vacant or whether it’s available,” Barclay Street owner David Wallach told Global News. “We decided to come out and explain to the public the difference between available and with vacant.”

Wallach told Global that Barclay Street’s report classifies a vacant office space as one that is empty with no lease in place, while an available space is empty but has a lease in place.

“We were painted with one brush,” Wallach told Global News. “I’ve heard 30% for the last five years. There’s better opportunities to do a head lease than a sub-lease.”

Wallach said 20% vacancy correlates to downtown office rates in major North American markets.

Barclay Streets assert that the total downtown availability rate, including sublease space, is 26.9%. That figure is closer to the 26.9% vacancy rate that Avison Young reported.

Lease terminations and office-to-residential conversions have contributed to an ongoing vacancy reduction. The downtown office inventory declined by about 1.4 million square feet in 2023.

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Inside The Story

Barclay Street Real EstateAvison Young

About Monte Stewart

Monte Stewart serves as Content Director - Canada for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monte provides daily news coverage of major Canadian commercial real estate markets, including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. He has written about the real estate sector for various media outlets and Avison Young since the early 2000s. In addition, he has covered sports, general news and business for several leading wire services and publications, including The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, Research Money, The Daily Oil Bulletin, Natural Gas World and The Toronto Star. Monte is active in his community as a youth basketball coach and raises funds for such charitable causes as Movember.

  • ◦Lease
  • ◦Development
  • ◦Policy/Gov't
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