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
The Columbus market vacancy increased due to new speculative development delivered this quarter totaling 4.4 million square feet, which pushed the direct vacancy rate from 4.4 percent to 5.6 percent.
Photo: Q4 2023 ISG Trends Quick Stats
Quarter in Review
Demand continued to slow as numbers trended to pre-pandemic numbers. Hesitation from tenants largely stems from macroeconomic concerns and has been the main factor in reduced leasing velocity. In turn, there will be significantly less new construction starts in 2024 and the market will focus on more built-to-suit projects. This is a major change when compared to the previous quarter when 12 percent of product was BTS. Now 70 percent of current projects are BTS making up 7.8 million square feet of construction. Intel accounts for three million square feet of BTS construction.
There were still large leases signed in the Greater Columbus area, despite the decreased activity. The largest lease signed was a sublease for over 750,000 square feet. Available sublease space continues to be over one percent of total available space. We expect sublease space to increase with the mentioned economic improbability. With the largest sublease signed this quarter, it shows tenants are interested in subleases that can offer more favorable terms than direct deals.
The Columbus industrial market has experienced a shift towards pre-pandemic numbers with deliveries outpacing projects breaking ground. Most delivered projects have not been preleased, due to a lack of demand as tenants are increasingly weary of the economic downturn as opposed to the last two years. As a result, we anticipate less new speculative construction in coming quarters with increased vacancy.
Absorption & Leasing
During the fourth quarter, the Columbus industrial market saw positive net absorption of 1.1 million square feet, which included twenty new leases totaling 2.5 million square feet. The largest lease signed this quarter was a sublease signed by Babylist for 757,719 square feet in the Pickaway submarket at 521 Exchange Way. This was the largest sublease signed in all of 2023. The Delaware and East submarkets totaled over 400,000 square feet of positive absorption with built-to-suit deliveries for Automation Solutions with 255,778 square feet at 7103 Green Meadows Drive Bldg 2 (Delaware) and for America’s Floor Source with 265,000 square feet at 2145 Stelzer Road (East). Over 2.5 million square feet was leased with many Q1 2024 and Q2 2024 commencement dates which will contribute to absorption momentum in 2024.
Vacancy & Market Rents
Vacancy increased 123 basis points in the fourth quarter due to many buildings delivered without a tenant preleasing the space. This was the highest vacancy rate recorded since 2015 when it measured 6.4 percent. Nearly 90 percent of deliveries are vacant and available being the highest vacancy deliverables since the pandemic. It is expected that this trend continues with a focus on more build-to-suit projects as the debt and capital markets continue to remain difficult for speculative construction. Direct asking rates showed a weighted rent of $6.43. With an expected increase in vacancy rates, we anticipate a slight increase in market rents for first-generation product but could see a decrease for second-generation product.
Sales volume totaled $255 million in the fourth quarter, however, $180 million of the reported volume was due to the top five sales of a combined 2.2 million square feet. The largest property, sold by Core5, traded at $79.75 per square foot and was purchased by Cabot Properties Inc. Another notable sale was Global Court I and II (2553-2653 Global Ct) purchased by Wafra Inc. from Pizzuti for $31,350,000 ($83.94 PSF). The sales volume and market price stayed consistent through 2023. Each quarter produced over $225 million sales volume with a steady price per square foot of just under $70.00.
Check out the full Q4 2023 Industrial Trends report here!
Office Market Update
Photo: Columbus Office
The Columbus office market saw positive absorption for the first time since the third quarter of 2022 coinciding with a vacancy rate decrease. This was largely due to Continental Real Estate Companies Arlington Gateway being delivered with 70,000 square feet pre-leased by Assured Partners, Kemglor and Gardiner Allen. Asking rates have remained consistent over the year landing at $21.78 for the fourth quarter. Following the trends in other markets, Columbus saw over 90,000 square feet of sublease space signed this quarter. Indicating tenants are showing more interest in shorter-term leases during this economic insecurity and decreased demand due to companies continuing to downsize. Several buildings may be going into receivership with many loans coming due over the next few months due to poor occupancy in many of the class B buildings and some lower-class A buildings. Many landlords are exploring different amenities to help companies bring back their employees to the office which coincides with the trend of companies starting to require employees to come back to the office full-time or on a hybrid basis. Office building conversions are still on the upswing to update uses of buildings with low occupancy and to fill the housing gaps that many markets such as Columbus face. The most recent conversion is Continental Centre, which is being altered to multifamily.
Photo: Q4 2023 ISG Trends Quick Stats
Absorption & Leasing
The largest lease signed this quarter was a sublease signed by Wells Fargo for 67,816 square feet in the Easton submarket, at 3075 Loyalty Circle. The sublease further supports the need for move-in ready spaces as well as the increase in leasing activity as more companies have their employees come back to the office. Two trends we’re seeing in the Columbus market. The Arlington/Grandview submarket totaled over 79,000 square feet of positive absorption largely in part to half of the Arlington Gateway delivery leased by Assured Partners, Kemglor, and Gardiner Allen. Over 210,000 square feet were leased with many early 2024 commencement dates. As expected, preleased deliveries continue through the new year, it is anticipated this shift will start to see a positive effect on absorption.
Vacancy & Market Rents
Vacancy decreased to 17.41 percent in the fourth quarter due to the partial preleased delivery of Arlington Gateway and strong leasing activity. This was the lowest vacancy rate recorded this year. Nearly 60 percent of expected deliveries in 2024 are preleased. As construction is completed, the preleased space will create positive absorption. Direct asking rates showed a weighted rent of $21.78. With an expected decrease in vacancy rates, we anticipate a slight decrease in market rents.
Sales volume totaled $26 million in the fourth quarter with $12 million of the reported volume as investment sales. One of the largest properties, 5775 Perimeter Drive, sold by Rea & Associates traded at $51.38 per square foot and was purchased by 2-Under Real Estate Group, LLC. Despite the successful sale, it is important to note that the past quarter saw the lowest sales volume since 2021. Consistency was shown in 2023 for market price with a steady price per square foot of close to $80.00 until the end of 2023 with a slight increase due to increased sales prices on smaller properties.
Check out the full Q4 2023 Office Trends report here!