July 15th, 2010
News & Observer
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s decision to review its real estate portfolio as it looks to slash expenses is part of a worrisome trend for the local real estate market.
Like GlaxoSmithKline, Blue Cross is one of the larger and more stable employers in the Triangle, and one that wasn’t expected to be a major contributor to the region’s rising vacancy rate.
Blue Cross owns roughly 825,000 square feet of office space in Durham and Chapel Hill. The majority of that space is at the company’s 40-acre campus along U.S. 15-501 in Chapel Hill and its customer service center and campus buildings on University Drive.
The Triangle office vacancy rate was 18.3 percent in the first quarter, according to Karnes Research, a Raleigh firm that tracks commercial real estate trends. That’s the highest it’s been in more than a decade and nearly three percentage points higher than it was in the first quarter of 2009.