By Anirban Basu, Sage Policy Group
Office Market Recovery Remains Remarkably Gradual
Baltimore’s regional office market continues to recover, but forward momentum has been virtually imperceptible. During the first quarter of 2013, the regional office market absorbed 111,200 square feet and vacancy with sublet declined from 16.0 percent to 15.8 percent.
Much of the absorption continues to be in the southern portion of the metropolitan area, which includes the Columbia (+127,900) and Annapolis (+35,100) submarkets. Note that if one excludes the Columbia sub-market, Baltimore’s regional net absorption during the year’s initial quarter was actually negative.
Interestingly, the BWI submarket experienced negative net absorption (-63,300) during the year’s first quarter. That market is rich in defense contractors and until very recently had been one of the Baltimore area’s most reliable performers. The extent to which government contractors or sequestration explains recent market performance is unclear. During last year’s final quarter, the BWI submarket absorbed nearly 100,000 square feet. Vacancy with sublet in the southern metropolitan area now stands at 13.6 percent.
The northern metropolitan area, which includes submarkets like Towson, Harford County and the Reisterstown Road Corridor experienced negative net absorption (-45,100) during 2013’s first quarter. Viewed from a glass half-full perspective, this actually represents improvement. During 2012’s final quarter, negative net absorption in this part of the regional market was (-100,500) square feet. Vacancy with sublet in the northern metropolitan area stood at 16.2 percent during the first quarter, up from 14.4 percent one year ago.
Performance in Baltimore City remains mixed. In City Center, net absorption totaled 88,900 square feet during the first quarter. That helped bring downtown’s vacancy with sublet down to 20.3 percent from 20.6 percent in the prior quarter and 22.6 percent one year ago. However, in the balance of the city, quarterly net absorption was negative (-31,600) and vacancy with sublet is up to 14.6 percent from 14.2 percent during the prior quarter and 13.7 percent one year ago.
Though the national economy has largely outperformed expectations thus far in 2013, there is no guarantee that the Baltimore market will continue to recover, even gradually. The impact of sequestration has been delayed by a number of forces. The initial start date for the sequester had been January 1st. That was subsequently postponed until March 1st. Many agencies appear to have then waited to initiate mandated spending reductions in anticipation of another continuing resolution. More recently, agency heads have been working to understand how much operational flexibility is embodied in the most recent continuing budget resolution. The implication of all of this is that the impact of spending reductions will largely be concentrated during spring and summer months and this may result in material slowing of regional economic growth, job creation, the pace of deal-making and net absorption.
|Location||Submarket||Tenant||Amount Leased SF|
|410 Natinoal Business Pky||BWI||Confidential||57,670 sf|
|7120 Samuel Morse Drive||Columbia||MedAssurant, Inc.||33,371 (r)|
|6190 Guardian Gateway||Harford County||Adams Communication & Engineering Technology||26,500 sf|
|3700-B O'Donnell Street||Baltimore City Southeast||Bravo Health||25,017 sf|
|400 Redland Court||Reisterstown Rd Corridor||Confidential||24,821 sf|
|401 E. Pratt Street||City Center||Confidential||11,300 sf|
|Location||Submarket||Price||PSF||Building Size SF|
|(2) Class A Office Buildings||I-83 Corridor||$23,700,000||$145.72||162,646 sf|
|6625 Selnick Drive||Columbia||$2,317,840||$76.69||30,233 sf|
|6940 Tudsbury Road||Baltimore County West||$2,300,000||$142.80||16,107 sf|
|Multi-Condo Units||Columbia||$1,146,270||$190.00||6,033 sf|
* All information furnished regarding property for sale, rent, exchange or financing is from sources deemed reliable. No representation is made as to the accuracy thereof and all such information is submitted subject to errors, omissions, or changes in conditions, prior sale, lease or withdrawal without notice. All information should be verified to the satisfaction of the person relying thereon. Portions of the base statistics are from CoStar Property data. Data as of 3/2013.
|Number of Buildings||1,227|
|Market Size||76,336,289 sf|
|Change Since Last|
|Vacancy W/ Sublet||15.82%|
|Net Absorption||111,237 sf|
|Avg. Asking Rate||$22.60 psf|
Rental rates remained steady throughout the metropolitan office market, wavering far less than $1.00 psf in either direction. In comparison to the multiple submarkets, Annapolis remains the front runner for higher rents, followed by Columbia, a consistent pattern from quarter to quarter.
Historical Vacancy Rates
Click on Graphs to Enlarge