Friday, October 10, 2003

What's the buzz?

Office market remains sluggish

A new report suggests that Greater Cincinnati's weak office market is showing few signs of improving because companies are reluctant to add jobs and expand space.

The result has been a gradual increase in empty office floors across the Tristate.

A new Cresa Partners report released Thursday shows downtown Class A office space vacancies at 15.8 percent in September, up from 12.8 percent the year before. Suburban office vacancies were even higher, 30 percent, compared with 25.5 percent the year before.

Cresa's report adds sublease space - office buildings that are rented though not occupied because of corporate downsizing - to the overall vacancy rate.

Alan Piker, who heads Cincinnati's Cresa office, said the chief culprit many real estate executives point to is a jobless recovery.

"If the jobs don't come back, people don't need as much real estate," Piker said.

Only Clear Channel, Shaw Engineering and Kohnen & Patton signed office leases of more than 20,000 square feet in recent months. Even large real estate deals involving Fifth Third Bank and Convergys Corp. likely will create more empty office space downtown over the next couple of years.

Ken Alltucker

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