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“We’re in a free fall”: Why every fourth floor in downtown Calgary could soon be vacant

As the city's tallest office tower nears completion, commercial real estate vacancies are climbing

Aug 15, 2016

by Alberta Venture Staff


Forget hustle and bustle – by next year, every fourth floor in downtown Calgary could be vacant.

Commercial real estate vacancies are nearing 19 per cent, and show no signs of slowing down. “With the current state of natural gas and oil, the impact to our market cannot be understated,” says Mark St. Pierre, executive vice-president of Avison Young. “We are in a free fall.”

Experts predict Calgary’s downtown could hit a record-breaking 25 per cent vacancy rate in the next 12 to 24 months, which means 10 million of the 41 million square feet (msf) of commercial space will sit vacant. This poses a major problem for the 1.4-million-square foot Brookfield Place – Calgary’s soon-to-be-tallest tower.

The skyscraper’s largest tenant, Cenovus Energy, confirmed they would not need as much space as initially planned. The oil company will sublease about 500,000 square feet in the 58-storey Bow tower, and an undisclosed amount in Brookfield Place; industry experts anticipate it to be in excess of 200,000 square feet.


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