Alberta office markets to see even higher vacancies: CBRE

"Challenges remain" despite owners looking for innovative solutions to historically high vacancy rates

Glacier Media Real Estate
February 26, 2020

Calgary office space is more than a quarter empty, and creeping closer to one-third, says CBRE. | Image submitted

Alberta's office real estate market has seen a further relaxation of vacancy rates that is set to increase further this year, according to a new commercial market forecast by CBRE.

Calgary's office sector, which has 241 acres of vacant space in the downtown market alone, is expected to see vacancy rates rise from an already loose 27.2 per cent to a whopping 29.1 per cent this year, according to the global commercial real estate firm.

With so much empty space, owners are looking to convert former office buildings into other uses such as residential, which CBRE describes as "interesting but not impactful." 

The report said, "Stakeholders continue to look for solutions to the historically high vacancy rates in downtown Calgary. The repurposing of empty offices into other uses has been the most widely discussed solution, however challenges with this strategy remain."

In Edmonton, office vacancies are predicted to rise from 20.1 per cent in 2019 to 21.1 per cent this year. However, rents are expected to stay flat and there is optimism for the Alberta capital's office sector.

CBRE wrote, "With world-class AI research and development at the University of Alberta, talent is flocking to the city and boosting the footprint of the technology industry in Edmonton. Over the past five years, Edmonton has seen a 25.7 per cent increase in tech talent, with over 28,400 technology workers in the city. This growth trajectory is expected to continue and will be a main driver of the office market."

CBRE's prediction's for Alberta's commercial market are listed in the tables below, and you can download CBRE’s full national report from here.

Calgary market

CBRE calgary commercial forecast Feb 2020
Source: CBRE


Edmonton market

CBRE edmonton commercial forecast Feb 2020
Source: CBRE


Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Media Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, Times Colonist, Prince George Citizen, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also writes and oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condos & Homes, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 23 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist talk radio show on Vancouver's Roundhouse Radio.
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