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Booming commercial real estate in downtown Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Booming commercial real estate in downtown Edmonton' Booming commercial real estate in downtown Edmonton
A group of business people have launched Edmonton's first commercial real estate tour. As Sarah Ryan explains on the noon news, the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association is hoping to highlight key projects happening across the city and change perceptions about economic growth – Nov 23, 2021

A group of commercial real estate development professionals say they’re excited about Edmonton’s future and want others to see what’s going on.

Kris Augustson, vice-president of Remington Development Corporation, is one of the people who is helping educate others on the opportunities out there.

“We really wanted to get in there and showcase what’s happening in the city today, highlight those major projects and give some background as to what the development community is seeing and some future trends and what we’re predicting moving forward,” he said.

Read more: How Alberta’s commercial real estate landscape is changing amid COVID-19 pandemic

NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, is hosting virtual tours and expert panels for Q&A sessions throughout the week.

The group says one of the most successful sectors throughout the pandemic has been industrial.

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“It’s been a real winner over the last 24 months in our region, just because of the real booms in e-commerce growth. People are buying things online. They want things delivered to their door,” said Bronwyn Scrivens, an associate broker with Omada Commercial.

Read more: Edmontonians slowly returning to the office, new report shows

She noted some industrial spaces are even being repurposed into retail options for businesses like craft breweries.

“We used to have a lot of vacancy in our city and now it’s pretty much getting blown through at a rapid rate,” she explained.

In retail, the vacancy rate currently sits at 5.2 per cent, which John Shamey, an associate partner with Cushman and Wakefield, says suggests a healthy market.

But he notes there’s been a change in where retailers are seeing a lot of success with so many working from home.

“The suburban markets are more active than you’ll see on High Street, on Whyte Avenue or Jasper Avenue, but I think that trend is going to shift as people work from the office.”

READ MORE: Big events in Edmonton bring boost in business

When it comes to office spaces, vacancy rates downtown still sit just below 20 per cent, according to Cameron Martin, a senior leasing manager with Epic Investment Services.

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But in the last few months, he said interest has piqued, with companies anticipating a return to the office.

“They’re looking and trying to secure their space so they have time to do a construction project, make the move more seamless and figure out logistics,” Martin said.

Those potential tenants are looking for top-of-the-line spaces to help attract and retain talented employees.

“Air circulation, cleaning, light penetration, things like that are definitely very important. Then amenities, fitness centres, board rooms, meeting rooms,” he added.

WATCH: Downtown Business Association urging companies to maintain office space in Edmonton’s core

Not everyone will ditch the home offices, though. Martin noted an uptick in the number of spaces being subleased.

But these developers say that shift may not be as drastic as first predicted back in 2020.

Anand Pye, executive director of NAIOP Edmonton, said the numbers from Colliers show we may have weathered the worst of the storm already.

“Their latest study showed that people needing less office space or who reported that they were downsizing is down to 26 per cent from 46 per cent.”

Tickets for NAIOP events are available here.

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