Downtown Calgary is on the rebound: CBRE Canada Market Outlook 2024

Click to play video: 'New market survey predicts big things for Calgary’s downtown office vacancy rate'
New market survey predicts big things for Calgary’s downtown office vacancy rate
WATCH: Downtown Calgary is optimistic its worst days are behind it as office vacancy rates are projected to drop below 30 per cent. Doug Vaessen reports – Feb 28, 2024

The CBRE Real Estate Market Outlook says downtown Calgary is poised for big things in 2024. But nobody had to tell that to Avatar Innovations CEO and co-founder Kevin Krausert and the Energy Transition Centre.

“You can feel it in the vibe that is happening downtown. The Energy Transition Centre is full. There is a waiting list to get in now. We are looking at expansion,” Krausert said.

In the energy capital of Canada, energy technology is the new leader, says Krausert. The Energy Transition Centre brings together innovators, researchers and investment in the ongoing quest to reduce emissions and find net zero by 2050.

“If you ever want a technology to get to market, you need to be able to find a customer and Calgary’s oil and gas skyscrapers are filled with customers.”

The CBRE’s Market Outlook for 2024 shows the downtown vacancy rate will to drop to 27.9 per cent, down from 2o23 and the historic high of 32.4 per cent in 2022.

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Ruhee Ismail-Teja, the Calgary Chamber vice president of  policy and external affairs, says 184,000 people moving to Alberta is not lost on investors.

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“Knowing that there is a significant pool of labour that has moved here, that real estate is more affordable. We have seen people move across the country to set up shop in Calgary. And we also see that some of the small tech firms that used to be on the ping pong tables in basements are actually coming to downtown because real estate is more affordable.”

Ismail-Teja says that success breeds success.

“It means the coffee shops are busier. It means the restaurants are busier. It means the dry cleaners are doing well. It also means people are more likely to live downtown.”

The report shows an anomaly. Calgary is the only major city where renting in the suburbs actually costs more.

The chamber says that may be by choice for some businesses but also land availability. Most big cities only have the option of building up not out.

Still, Calgary also leads the country in the number of workers heading back downtown and that is expected to continue.

Krausert says in some ways, it’s a return to good old fashioned Calgary business practices.

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“You can feel the excitement downtown. COVID taught us you don’t necessarily need to be in an office every single day. But I think it also did teach us the incredible importance and power of face-to-face interaction of networking.”

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