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Vacancies drop but 'flexibility' still keeping many away from CBD

Business

The Brisbane office market has consolidated with vacancies decreasing slightly in the first six months of the year, according to the Property Council of Australia’s latest Office Market Report.

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But the market remains disrupted by workers increasingly opting for work flexibility by working from home, the council said.

That had meant that CBD retailers were continuing to hurt and more needed to be done to revitalise the city.

Brisbane’s CBD vacancy rate decreased marginally, from 13.6 per cent to 13.5 per cent, and the city fringe market decreased from 16.6 per cent to 16.1 per cent.

The council’s Queensland executive director Jen Williams said it was essential that the retailers, hospitality and entertainment venues not only survived in the lead up to the Olympics but thrived, so they can come out the other side and give people a reason to visit and stay.

“With the ongoing threat of lockdowns and impact of social restrictions, measures to support CBD revitalisation are more needed than ever,’’ Williams said.

“In the first instance, we need everyone to follow the Government’s health advice so we can get through the current lockdown and get people back to their day-to-day lives of shopping, working and recreating outside the home.

 “Vaccination is the key to getting our CBD back up and running at full throttle again. Until we have enough of the population vaccinated, we won’t be able to welcome back the international students and tourists our city centre really needs to thrive.

 “Office workers remain the biggest demographic who patronise the city on a daily basis. Making the city and workplace desirable places to be in will be vital in a future where workers are able to choose if or when they attend the office.

 “Public transport and congestion are big challenges in getting people back in the city. Along with health concerns, we know the time and cost of the commute is what is keeping many at home.

 “Any incentives to get people back on public transport would go a long way to reactivating the CBD.

 “Likewise, we know that the benefits of being in the office extend further than the office space itself. The availability of green space, activations in public spaces, incentives from landlords and employers to attend the office, and retail campaigns to encourage spending, are all elements that we know can assist in enticing workers back into the city.

 

The vacancy rate relates to leases of office space but does not reflect the level of workers within the offices.

Williams said Brisbane’s office markets “had fared remarkably well during these trying times.”

“Last quarter’s ANZ/Property Council Survey results showed an uptick in the property industry’s confidence, from 144 to 147 index points. This decrease in Brisbane office vacancy- despite the ongoing challenges COVID-19 presents is yet another indication of the positive sentiment in the Queensland market,” she said.

“The above historical average demand for small to medium enterprise office spaces in the Brisbane fringe markets are driving this positive market sentiment.

“Securing the rights to host the 2032 Olympics means that Brisbane’s golden decade of opportunity has begun, and as a result, we can expect this interest in office space to continue. 

“This is our city’s chance to attract new businesses, which will bring along with them new talent and new investment in our commercial assets.

 “While Brisbane office vacancy rates have decreased slightly and the future looks bright, in the immediate term, it’s not all smooth sailing for the CBD. 

“Many retailers and hospitality venues are still hurting, as we once again find ourselves in lockdown, and employees are increasingly choosing greater flexibility in how they and where they work.

“With the ongoing threat of lockdowns and impact of social restrictions, measures to support CBD revitalisation are more needed than ever.

“Following the overwhelming success of the Fridays in the City campaign (run in Brisbane CBD from 21 May- 25 June), over the coming weeks the Property Council will be seeking out further partnerships with landlords, Brisbane City Council and the State Government, to help attract workers back into the CBD and drive much-needed foot traffic in our retail assets.”

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