November 30, 2011
After seeing relatively little leasing activity for most of 2011, the uptown office vacancy rate is set to fall, thanks to Chiquita International Brands.
The banana purveyor’s announcement that it would move its corporate headquarters to the NASCAR Plaza from Cincinnati could shave nearly 1 percent off the rate – pushing it to 12 percent from its current 12.8 percent, according to Karnes Research in Charlotte.
Uptown’s office vacancy rate has hovered above 12 percent since the second quarter of 2010, when it was 12.1 percent. In 2007, at the end of the economic boom, when empty space was scarce, rates were around 2 percent, the lowest in the country.
In calculating the impact of Chiquita’s new lease, Karnes managing partner Andrew Jenkins estimated that Chiquita would occupy roughly 125,000 square feet – or the top three floors – of the office tower adjacent to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Last year, uptown had 11,000 more square feet become available than was leased.
“We’ve just had a shuffle of tenants recently and not a lot of new, good, big deals,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had a lot of really strong, brand new tenants coming in taking a big chunk of space in a while.”
Countywide, there is 8.85 million square feet of office space available for lease. When Chiquita moves in, it will lower the county’s office vacancy rate to 17.75 percent from 18 percent, according to Karnes.