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Q1 2024 INDUSTRIAL & OFFICE MARKET UPDATE

Written by: Collin Fitzgerald and Brooke Ferman, Research Team


As the Research Team, Collin, Research Manager, and Brooke, Research Analyst, specialize in research capabilities, providing support for the Colliers Columbus Office, Industrial and Retail groups. They are responsible for executing data reports, maintaining a commercial property database, reporting quarterly trends, performing data analysis and utilizing statistical information to predict future behavior in the market. They also assist the marketing and research director on special projects and corporate initiatives. Keep reading for Collin and Brooke's take on market trends in the Columbus office and industrial sectors.


Industrial Market Update

Photo: Columbus Industrial


Columbus market vacancy has risen for a second consecutive quarter. This results in multiple large tenants vacating their spaces, totaling 1.1 million square feet of negative absorption.


Photo: Q1 2024 ISG Trends Quick Stats


Quarter in Review

The Columbus industrial market experienced negative absorption for the first time since Q4 2019. Many socioeconomic factors have led to the slowing of the industrial boom resulting in numbers that align closer to pre-pandemic trends. Major tenants such as TJ Maxx (1.1 million square feet), Pepsi/Quaker (320,000 square feet), Newell brands (756,333) and Brooks (125,000 square feet) vacated all or portions of their spaces this quarter, significantly impacting net absorption in the Pickaway and Southeast submarkets. Speculative construction activity continues to decelerate, aligning closely with pre-pandemic levels. All construction activity has decreased by over 25 percent year over year. Build-to-suit projects are steering construction due to debt and capital markets having negative impacts on speculative construction. Build-to-suit construction has risen to 73 percent of total construction, amounting to 7.9 million square feet of construction. 

 

There were still notable new leases and renewals signed this quarter despite the decrease in activity. The largest lease signed was an expansion covering over 416,000 square feet by ODW Logistics. Available sublease space continued to rise to 4,207,125 square feet, now exceeding one percent of the total available space in the market. Increased available sublease space gives tenants in the market the opportunity for shorter-term leases. With the impact of an election year, we anticipate more subleases to be signed to fill more immediate needs rather than long term.


Forecast

The Columbus industrial market continues its shift towards pre-pandemic numbers as vacancy rises and absorption numbers continue to decline. We have seen construction activity continue to slow as many speculative projects have not been preleased bringing more caution to break ground on planned projects. While we continue to see build-to-suits be the driving construction force. This trend reflects a decreased demand environment, as tenants exhibit greater caution amid economic uncertainties compared to the previous two years. As a result, we project we will continue to see the trends throughout the year until there is more economic certainty and the industrial market falls back into balance.


Absorption & Leasing

The Columbus industrial market had negative net absorption of 1.2 million square feet, which is the first-time negative absorption has been recorded since the end of 2019. The largest negative absorption impact was TJ Maxx vacating over 1.1 million square feet at Centerpoint I in the Southeast submarket. This was followed by Pepsi/Quaker vacating their 320,000 square feet of space in the Southeast submarket this quarter and Newell Brands vacating 250,000 square feet with 500,000 square feet to follow in the coming months. The largest lease signed this quarter was an expansion signed by ODW Logistics for 416,091 square feet in the Southeast submarket at 1489 Rohr Road. Modern bulk build-to-suit deliveries in Delaware and Licking submarkets totaled over 694,000 square feet of positive absorption with InnoPak accounting for 424,000 square feet at 805 Founders Ct (Delaware) and Amgen following up with 270,000 square feet at 14549 Worthington Rd NW (Licking). Over 2.1 million square feet was leased with most of the commencement dates falling between Q2 2024 and Q3 2024.


Vacancy & Market Rents

Vacancy increased 35 basis points in the first quarter due to large tenant move-outs and speculative construction deliveries. This marks the highest vacancy rate recorded since 2015 when it stood at 6.4 percent. One of the biggest contributors to the rise in vacancy are the completed speculative projects that were delivered without a tenant, with over 50 percent of speculative deliveries being vacant and available. The remaining leased deliveries comprise of build-to-suit buildings. It is anticipated that this trend will continue, with a heightened focus on build-to-suit projects, given the challenging conditions in the debt and capital markets for speculative construction. Direct asking rates showed a weighted rent of $7.01, reflecting a decrease compared to the previous quarter.


Sales Activity

Sales volume totaled $110 million in the first quarter, however, $88 million of the reported volume was due to the top three sales of a combined 915,000 square feet. The largest property, 3755 Hayes Rd, was purchased by the State of Ohio for 640,640 square feet, traded at $56,000,000 ($87.41 PSF) and sold by CA Ventures. Another notable sale was 3555 Gantz Rd for 221,616 square feet purchased by Douglas Capital Partners from Brookfield Corporation for $18,800,000 ($84.83 PSF). The sales volume and market price decreased in the first quarter. However, the price per square foot of $83.94 increased to be the highest price per square foot since Q2 2022.


 

Check out the full Q1 2024 Industrial Trends report here!


 

Office Market Update

Photo: Columbus Office


The Columbus office market fell back into negative absorption to start 2024, aligning with a vacancy rate that rose three basis points to 17.44%. Suburban submarkets saw the heaviest negative absorption this quarter with Worthington having the lowest at (126,134) square feet then followed by Westerville with (66,787) square feet. Most of the negative absorption is coming from multiple smaller tenants vacating spaces or downsizing their spaces within their buildings. Asking rates started the year with a decrease of $0.51 to $21.27 psf.  We expect rents likely rise towards years end with more speculative office space being delivered in Columbus. One of the biggest deliveries this quarter was in the Dublin submarket, 6620 Mooney Street. This 121,721 square foot building  was delivered with partially leased by Central Insurance who will occupy 45,000 square feet. The trend of sublease space becoming more desirable is starting to become more prevalent in Columbus. In the past 2 quarters over 100,000 square feet of sublease space was leased. Tenants are starting to display a preference for shorter-term leases amid economic insecurity. Throughout 2024, several buildings may transition into receivership as many loans come due this year, particularly affecting class B and some lower-class A buildings with poor occupancy rates. The national trend of office building conversions continues to rise, aiming to repurpose underutilized buildings and address housing shortages although Columbus hasn’t seen a great wave of this hitting its office towers.


Photo: Q1 2024 ISG Trends Quick Stats


Absorption & Leasing

The largest lease signed this quarter was a temporary lease signed by Pharmavite for 25,000 square feet in the New Albany submarket, at 8111 Smiths Mill Road. Another notable transaction in the same submarket was secured by VCA Animal Hospitals, Inc., acquiring 23,168 square feet at 6455 W Campus Oval. The Dublin submarket totaled over 35,000 square feet of positive absorption primarily attributed to Central Insurance leasing a portion of the 6620 Mooney Street delivery. Over 650,000 square feet of office space was signed this quarter with many Q2 and Q3 2024 commencement dates. The continued trend of preleased deliveries is anticipated to gradually impact absorption with more tenants going to newer builds in the coming year.


Vacancy & Market Rents

Vacancy remained stable, experiencing an uptick of three basis points to reach 17.44 percent in the first quarter. Notably, over 30 percent of anticipated deliveries in 2024 are already preleased. As construction is completed, the preleased space will most likely create small wave of positive absorption with most tenants moving out of their spaces and expanding into much larger their previous space. Direct asking rates showed a weighted rent of $21.27 as this is a slide backwards from the previous quarter, we expect the asking rate to remain steady throughout 2024.


Sales Activity

Sales volume totaled $70 million in the first quarter up $44 million from last quarter, with $35 million of the reported total coming from investment sales. The largest property sold this quarter was 3435 Stelzer Rd, comprised of 238,641 square feet, sold by Scherber Dale P & Marlene H. The property traded at $21.5 million and was purchased by IRA Capital, LLC. It is important to note this quarter produced the highest sales volume since the beginning of 2023. This quarter also fell back to pricing similar to the first half of 2023 price per square foot following a spike in pricing during Q4 2023.


 

Check out the full Q1 2024 Office Trends report here!


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