Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Office Vacancy Rate Lowest in 12 Years: Suburban Markets Post Third Year of Growth

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Office Vacancy Rate Lowest in 12 Years: Suburban Markets Post Third Year of Growth

Article excerpt

Ken Tooman fidgeted at the question, sliding back in his chair, his brow clenched as he considered the answer. But looking about the Atlas Life Building as he sat in the heart of downtown Tulsa, Tooman could only smile at the irony.

"Not too much has changed, truth be known," he said of his 2006 survey results, "although the numbers might suggest a weak market."

By the numbers, Tulsa's office sector ended the year with a 20.4- percent vacancy rate - the lowest in 12 years. Downtown's 39 office buildings played a large role in that, their occupancy rate falling 3.4 points to 73.7 percent - a mark Tooman could only speculate as one of the lowest in memory.

But counterbalancing downtown's decline, Tooman pointed to a 1- percent gain in the larger suburban office market, leaving the overall office occupancy rate only 0.8 percent below 2005 marks.

Tooman considered that an achievement, especially since 2006 began with known stumbling blocks - the pending relocation of Vintage Petroleum and Citgo office staff, and the sale of WilTel. Both Vintage and WilTel job losses impacted downtown occupancies, although Tooman noted they were not the only factors influencing the area's decline.

The managing director of Tooman Partners also pointed out that a "significant amount" of space now showing up vacant actually was unoccupied in 2005, though still under lease.

That fact reflects on how the overall marketplace has suffered two years at or near 20-percent vacancy. Digging deeper, the Tooman 2006 Office Market Review shows that sector has endured four- straight years with the overall vacancy rate above 15 percent, and six straight above 12 percent.

But factor down the 7.7 million square feet of downtown office space and the Tulsa market picture brightens quickly. Of the 12.19 million square feet in Tulsa's 106 suburban surveyed office buildings, only the east Tulsa and Skelly Drive regions chart occupancy rates below 83 percent.

That compares to a national office vacancy rate of 12. …

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