This edition of the Investment Newsletter contains 1st quarter 2017 market indicators, market statistics, sales transactions and an investor spotlight interview with Bill Hunt of the Elmhurst Group based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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Following a strong performance in the first quarter of 2016, Pittsburgh’s office market ended the second quarter with similar strength, boasting a vacancy rate of just 7.7%. The average rental rate, over all classes, finished at a solid $20.40 per square foot.
Overall, Pittsburgh’s Central Business District (CBD) posted a declining vacancy rate of 8.3%, down over 0.5% from this time last quarter. The average asking rental rate per square foot for all classes in the CBD remained steady from previous quarters reaching $23.66 per square foot. The average asking rental rate for Class “A” buildings in the CBD was just over $26.65 per square foot with Class ”B” reaching an average of $20.60 per square foot. We can expect overall rental rates in the CBD to increase due to the two large renovations underway to include: the 529,000 square foot Liberty Center and the 1,011,000 square foot One Oxford Centre. The buildings are currently quoting $33.00 and $34.00, respectively.
Similarly, Pittsburgh’s suburban office market remained strong. The end of the second quarter showed a 7.4% vacancy rate compared to the first quarter’s vacancy rate of 7.9%. The average rental rate for Class “A” buildings in the suburban office markets reached $23.43 per square foot with Class “B” attaining rates of $19.36 per square foot. Both classes demonstrated an increase from the previous quarter. Suburban submarkets, such as the Parkway West, have retained large amounts of Class “A” inventory providing sizeable users with options in the market.
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The Pittsburgh retail real estate market continues to be strong. The vacancy rate across all retail property types dropped to 3.5% during the last quarter, although the numbers are skewed upward by large vacancies in a few submarkets. The market for prime anchored shopping center space is extremely tight and the effective vacancy rate for most quality centers is between 1-2%. Absorption for the period was 208,000 square feet. The total retail market is 138,741,180 square feet, including 32,945,052 of shopping center space. Low vacancy rates and high absorption has pushed lease rates up.
Overall lease rates increased by .2% over the previous quarter to an average of $12.03 per square foot. High quality retail locations now typically lease in the low to mid $30 range, with some leases coming in as high as $55 per square foot. Small shop space in fringe market anchored space is usually near $15 per square foot. New construction typically requires a lease rate no less than $22.50.
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RETAIL MOVE OVER! OFFICE MARKET SHINES IN 4TH QUARTER; INDUSTRIAL SOFTENS SLIGHTLY
Office Market Sees Big New Construction Numbers
The Office Market in the 4th quarter saw an 8.1% overall vacancy rate, improving from the 3rd quarter’s 8.4% rate, with a positive absorption rate of 868,224 SF. Better yet, the overall asking rate when from $19.97 PSF in Q3 to $20.61 PSF, a 3.2% increase. Two new buildings were delivered totaling 556,643 SF, with another 2,324,245 SF under construction. Two of the high profile projects under construction include the 800,000 SF Tower at PNC Plaza and 250,000 SF at Zenith Ridge III. Notable office leasing transaction include: UPMC Health Plan, represented by Colliers International in Pittsburgh, taking 140,967 SF at Heniz 57 Center, and Wesco International Charitable Foundation’s 82,018 SF at Commerce Court in Station Square. Two new buildings were delivered in the quarter with 186,000 SF at 1 Southpointe Boulevard and 174,000 SF at the Wexford Medical Mall, both of which are 100% occupied. For the quarter, Class A space improved to a 7.6% vacancy and $26.56 PSF in asking rates; Class B space had an improved 8.7% vacancy rate and an $18.57 PSF rate; and Class C space saw the vacancy decrease to 7.5%, with a $14.49 PSF asking rate. The overall CBD vacancy rate improved to 9.2% in vacancy, while the Suburban market continued to improve and ended with a 7.7% vacancy rate.
Click here to see the full Q4 2014 Pittsburgh Investment Newsletter.