Houston's energy sector keeps office construction humming

Colliers International projects continued expansion this year in its quarterly report on national office market. 

June 12, 2015 |
Houston's energy sector keeps office construction humming

Colliers International’s 2015 North America Office Market report assessed 92 markets in the U.S. and Canada. Image: Pixabay

Houston continues to be a paradise for AEC firms. The Texas metroplex has more than 14.4 million sf of office construction in the works, making it the No. 1 market in North America for office building, according to Colliers International’s 2015 North America Office Market report.

This report assesses 92 markets in the U.S. and Canada, and analyzes factors and trends that might impact the office construction market’s health. Despite a slow first quarter, Colliers is forecasting growth for this year.

The top 10 markets in North America, in descending order, are Houston, Seattle/Puget Sound, San Jose, Washington D.C., Dallas, Toronto, Calgary, San Francisco, Boston, and Phoenix. Combined, they accounted for 58% of the 113.8 million sf of office space underway in the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter of this year. That percentage is more than double these markets’ 27% share of existing office inventory.

As of the first quarter, office construction in the United States stood at 95.2 million sf, or 1% off from the same period a year earlier. However, deliveries in the first quarter, at 16 million sf, were the highest they’d been since the third quarter of 2009. Colliers says demand for new space “remains voracious” high-tech oriented markets. On the other hand, the greatest oversupply risk is in energy driven markets.

Colliers still sees the U.S. office market as positioned for expansion this year. “Growth in nearly every subsector of the primary office-using employment sectors in Q1 2015 despite numerous headwinds bodes well for office demand going forward,” it predicts. And outside of a handful of markets, oversupply is not a concern. 

Among the 10 largest office construction markets:

• Seattle has 8.29 million sf under construction, the vast majority of which is being built in its downtown area, where existing inventory exceeds 56 million sf.

• In San Jose, all of its 8.1 million sf of new office construction is occurring in the suburbs, which already have 68.4 million sf of existing office space available, but where San Jose’s vacancy rate is only 8%.

• Washington D.C. has an 11.7% urban vacancy rate and a 17.5% suburban vacancy rate. Nevertheless, Washington has nearly 4.4.million sf of office space under construction in its suburbs, and another 2.4 million sf being built in its downtown. 

• Only 450,000 sf of the 5.8 million sf of offices under construction in Dallas will be downtown. The same dynamic is occurring in Houston, where only 1.4 million sf of its total office construction is downtown. 

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