Here is a fascinating take on the vacancy rate for office space in downtown Pittsburgh. Seems that there are more empty offices today than there were a year ago. Which is troublesome. But fear not:
But things could be improving Downtown, said Grubb & Ellis spokeswoman Pamela Lowery. "There are some large users looking."
One of those is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has expressed an interest in taking 200,000 square feet or more of Downtown space for administrative operations. Such a move could by itself shave a full percentage point from Downtown's vacancy rate.
OK. That is probably a good thing. But not obviously so. Does this amount to 200,000 extra square feet for UPMC? Or are they moving downtown from elsewhere in the city? If it is the latter, who cares? The only benefit might be some illusory boom in terms of "downtown vitality" that would seem to be counteracted by the lack of vitality in whichever neighborhood loses UPMC as a tenant. Of course, given UPMC's growth, I can see it being space for new offices. Or at least offices brought in from outside the city. The article doesn't say.
But here's the really interesting part:
Then there is the redevelopment of the Fifth-Forbes corridor, finally receiving a kickstart with the construction of PNC Financial Group's massive office/residential complex now under way. Together with Millcraft Industries' reworking of the former Lazarus and G.C. Murphy stores into mixed-use complexes, it could spark a Downtown resurgence that would make a 20 percent vacancy a thing of the past.
Umm... I hate to point out the obvious, but...
The construction of a "massive" office complex in a city that is currently hemorrhaging (or at least bleeding) office tenants might indeed "make a 20 percent vacancy a thing of the past." Unfortunately, it might do so by making a 22 percent vacancy a thing of the present.
Or pick your own number. Either way, is it completely clear to everyone that the answer to an office glut is to subsidize the construction of more office space? I guess so, if you think that the new space is going to create "buzz," which will in turn draw in tenants who have refused to put their offices in downtown Pittsburgh lo these many years. Which of course sounds a lot like... sing along with me now...
If you build it...
They will come.
I don't know. That sounds so 1990 to me. (And 1980. And 1970. And 1960. And 1950.)
And guess what? They still haven't come.
Perhaps if we elect Kevin Costner as mayor. He can bring in James Earl Jones to head the URA, Ray Liotta to be head of planning.
What could go wrong? We already have the stadiums.