W-S office vacancy rate drops 60 percent

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The Winston-Salem Journal reports office space filled at a faster rate in Winston-Salem in the past four years than in any of the other largest cities in North Carolina. Almost 20 percent of the office space in buildings in downtown Winston-Salem was vacant at the end of 2007, according to Karnes, a market research company based in Charlotte.  Karnes collects data from realty clearinghouses in cities across North Carolina each quarter.

At the end of September — the most recent information available — about 8 percent of the office space in Winston-Salem was empty. Those numbers mean the vacancy rate in downtown Winston-Salem dropped by almost 60 percent. The vacancy rate in Greensboro’s downtown increased by about 33 percent; in Charlotte, the vacancy rate increased more than 300 percent.

Andrew Jenkins, a managing partner at Karnes, said the drop in vacancies in downtown Winston-Salem could be related to the city’s efforts to attract businesses, shops and residences downtown. “They’ve been kind of trying to revitalize their downtown, as well as get a stadium in place. … I  think that’s probably helped in terms of generating demand,” Jenkins said. “There’s an argument out there that there’s a gravitation toward center cities and more urban living, so you might be seeing that across the state.”

Winston-Salem’s downtown has transformed in the past five years: Empty buildings and vacant storefronts now house restaurants with al fresco  dining. There are still empty storefronts along Fourth Street, but the vacancies are dwindling. Winston-Salem has almost 5 million square feet of office space in its downtown — more than any other downtown in North Carolina other than Charlotte, according to Karnes. Winston-Salem, too, as the lowest average rent per square foot.

Michael Clapp, owner of Michael Clapp Appraisals — which several times a year compiles information about office space prices and vacancies in Winston-Salem — said new office buildings have not been built in downtown Winston-Salem since 2002. And the space that is here, he said, is priced to rent. Read More.

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