Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Columbus Day!

Today was one of those “optional” holidays. Government offices were generally closed. No mail. No banking. No trash pick up and so on. On the other hand schools were open, the stock market was open and, for more than a few companies, it was business as usual.

Or not.

Because it has become a sort of optional holiday, finding someone to actually do some business with you on Columbus Day can be a bit of a crap shoot.

For me, the day started with an appointment with an existing client. This particular client had recently eliminated a self funded start up and thus their space needs had been significantly reduced. Unfortunately, they still had a few years of lease term left. This is hardly an isolated occurrence. The recent economic slowdown has resulted in an increase in the amount of space offered for sublease in Columbia.

As I left the appointment I heard on the radio that the Dow was up 400 points or so.

At noon I met Ed Ely for lunch at the Ellicott Mills Brewing Company. Ed and I go way back. He used to be the guy you had to see if you wanted to buy any land in Columbia. But we apparently go much farther back than that. He knew my older sister Pat from Catonsville days when they both attended St. Mark CYO dances!

I told him a little about my morning meeting and the overall state of the commercial real estate market in Columbia. It has been pretty slow since the spring. Today, according to CoStar, the office vacancy rate in Columbia Gateway is 21.6% but when you factor in the available sublease space it jumps to 24%. Town Center is actually fairing a little better in this regard. The office vacancy rate in Town Center is currently 15.9% with the sublease space only jacking it up to 16.2%.

When I got back to the office the Dow was up 600 points.

Later in the day I had to drop off a couple of checks. One I had to take to my accountant, whom, I should mention, is the best dam accountant on the planet earth and another one to the HCEDA 2008 CORE Tour. This is a half day symposium and bus tour covering commercial real estate in Howard County. I’m happy to report that the HCEDA offices were open for business today.

As I left their offices in Columbia Gateway, I decided to take a look around the park to see what a 21.2% vacancy rate actually looks like. It was just too nice of day to rush back to the office.

It is relatively easy to see. The vacancy rate for this part of Columbia is largely due to three buildings that stand within a quarter mile of each other. All are new, never been occupied buildings. The oldest one is 7021 Columbia Gateway Drive. This building was finished over a year ago and was once even offered for sale. Today the doors were locked. This counts for 105,215 square feet of the vacancy.

Just a little further down the road is 6811 Benjamin Franklin Drive. This buiding was finished in March. It adds 57,600 square feet to the vacancy rate.

The third building is 6841 Benjamin Franklin Drive. The building, known as the The Franklin Building, is just now nearing completion. It adds 200,573 square feet to the vacancy rate.

As I drove back to the office the radio announced that the Dow has closed up over 900 points. It was some kind of record.

Happy Columbus Day!


Anonymous said...

I guess business was not business as usual on this Columbus day. Mostly I cleaned my Paperport from 100 items to 65 items. I'm amazed at how efficiently my efiles are stored for almost immediate retrievable. Otherwise, I would have spoken to 40 or so clients and prospects and answered 50 emails out of the 250 which hit my Outlook. I did have a client calling to vent today. It was refreshing to hear someone complaint about someone else in hopes of eliciting some help from me to resolve the problem. Later, a walk around Centennial Lake twice in 71 minutes proved to be invigorating.
I practically have to run when HB walks. Well, enough about this atypical day highlighted by the record breaking stock market rise. It's about 9 and time to call it a day.

Anonymous said...

So, what's going on with BRAC? Weren't we supposed to get huge numbers of jobs that need office space?