Manhattan Class A vacancy rate highest since 1997

By Adam Pincus | December 04, 2009 06:37PM

The vacancy rate for Class A office buildings in Manhattan last month reached its highest level since April 1997, according to a new report from commercial services firm Colliers ABR.

The report, the first from one of the major firms to be released this month, showed a continued softness in Manhattan office leasing, but noted improvement in some areas, including a small uptick in asking rents in Midtown South.

The data showed that the Manhattan Class A vacancy rate reached 12.2 percent in November, the highest since April 1997 when it hit 12.8 percent.

For all classes of buildings in Manhattan, the vacancy rate was 15.5 percent, up .1 points from the month before. At the same time, average asking rents fell $0.28 per square foot to $50.63 per foot.

The total volume of Class A space available in Manhattan for leasing was more than 28 million square feet, a 41 percent jump from the same point last year when the figure was 19.9 million square feet, the report showed.

“The commercial real estate market has entered into a tepid or lukewarm phase as 2009 comes to a close,” Robert Sammons, Colliers managing director of research, wrote in the report.

In Midtown, the vacancy rate was flat at 14 percent, while average asking rents dropped by $0.72 per foot to $57.44, the report said. Midtown South saw a rise of .3 points in its vacancy rate to 14.4 percent in November, but showed modest evidence of strength in asking rents, with a rise of $1.12 per foot to $41 per square foot.

In the Downtown market, the vacancy rate rose by .1 points to 11.1 percent and asking rents fell slightly by $0.28 per foot to $39.67 per square foot, the statistics showed.