Make us your home page

Tampa Bay office buildings land more tenants, indicating rebound

Tampa Bay office buildings replaced dust with more people in 2011, as the vacancy rate dropped to 19 percent, a level not seen since early 2009.

Real estate experts had predicted the rate would drop as businesses hire workers. Vacancy rates typically fall when employment grows.

Although a full economic recovery isn't under way, experts say the decline is good for the region. "The bottom is behind us," said Larry Richey, senior managing director of Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa. "It's amazing how real estate trends with employment."

He expects the numbers to drop even faster this year if the economy keeps improving.

Vacancy rates typically hover between 10 and 20 percent in the bay area, Richey said. Although the rate fell to 11.2 percent in the third quarter of 2006, Richey called that an "unprecedented" demand for space. The current rate of 19 percent mirrors the third quarter of 2003.

The rate in downtown Tampa is 16.5 percent, and downtown St. Petersburg's is 16.8 percent, according to Cushman & Wakefield data.

To lure tenants over the past few years, landlords offered free or reduced rent and shorter leases. That is still happening, but landlords will regain power as the vacancy rates drop lower.

Stephan Whitaker, a research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said vacancy rates are good indicators of how the economy is doing in a region.

"Businesses are not renting space for other reasons," he said. "If it is going down, there is a need for space. The market is clearing."

The average rent in the Tampa Bay area is $20.48 per square foot.

Claire Calzon, managing director of office services at Colliers International Tampa Bay, oversees 900,000 square feet of leasing in the Park Tower and Wells Fargo Center in downtown Tampa. She has seen an uptick in law firms expanding and other businesses seeking bigger and nicer spaces.

"Folks are tired of sitting on their hands waiting," she said. "This is a good thing. Landlords are trying to remain cautiously optimistic. We're definitely in a better position today than three years ago."

Unlike places such as Orlando, developers didn't flood the Tampa Bay market with new buildings during the boom, and they have not built many buildings since the real estate market imploded. Currently, about 330,000 square feet of new office space is being built in the bay area.

Miami's vacancy rate is 19.2 percent, Orlando's is 20.2 percent and Jacksonville's is 21.1, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Office space isn't only filling up here. In 2011, the U.S. office sector recorded the strongest level of demand since 2007, according to Cassidy Turley, a commercial real estate services provider.

Reach Mark Puente at Follow him on Twitter at

Tampa Bay office buildings land more tenants, indicating rebound 01/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.