Downtown Vancouver office vacancies rise as Omicron derails return-to-work plans

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      A report by a Vancouver commercial real-estate company notes that one COVID-19 variant would have been plenty.

      But alas, there turned out to be more.

      As NAI Commercial related, there was Alpha in December 2019, Beta in January 2020, Gamma in February of 2020, and Delta in April 2021.

      And then Omicron appeared in November 2021.

      With this new variant, all hopes for a return to the office went pfft.

      NAI Commercial reported that after the first reduction in office vacancy in Downtown Vancouver in the third quarter of 2021, the rate increased to 10.2 percent.

      The third quarter vacancy rate was 9.2 percent.

      On a yearly basis, the Downtown Vancouver office vacancy rate increased 17.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021.

      The report recalled that the rate was 8.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

      Surveying the previous year, the company noted that it was “surprised by the lack of defaults for office leases” in Metro Vancouver at the beginning of last year.

      The trend “held true for 2021”.

      “We were also hopeful for a solid return to the office that did not materialize; there was a push by some firms to have their staff back for July 1st,” the company noted.

      “Then when July came,” NAI Commercial continued, “the new target date for many firms became September 1st.”

      Moreover, “As infection rates increased worldwide with discussions of the possible arrival of a new variant, few returned to work in September, and there was discussion of waiting until 2022.”

      “With Omicron spreading quickly in December,”the company added, “back-to-work plans have shifted once again.”

      Managing partner Rob DesBrisay remains optimistic about prospects for the office market in Downtown Vancouver and the rest of Metro Vancouver.

      In a cover note for the report, DesBrisay wrote that there will be “positive news” in the first quarter of 2022.

      DesBrisay expects a “push for a return to the office will begin”.