Fort Wayne market stability helping lessen pandemic’s impact on office vacancies

Local News

An advertisement for “space for lease” hangs on a sign at an office complex.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A change in the way many companies do business has trickled down the people who lease office space. The trend of empty offices has been seen across the country, but it seems Fort Wayne has weathered it better than other, larger cities.

The Zacher Company has released its annual office market report. It highlights office inventory, vacancy and availability as well as industry trends. According to the 2020 writeup, “COVID-19 had an impact on the usage of office space with the long-term effects still undetermined.”

“With Zoom and Microsoft Teams and other things, a lot of employees found that they could be productive – they could just stay home and they were happy doing that,” Managing Broker Steve Zacher told WANE 15. “There’s a permanent change in the way we’ll think of the office. That Monday through Friday, eight to five office dynamic, I don’t think will ever be the same.”

Companies are not only cutting back on office space, some are shifting to bigger space. The close proximity employees have with each other in companies that have been up and running through the pandemic is another dynamic that has started to change.

“Those two trends are working against each other,” Zacher said. “One means you need less space. The other means you need more.”

According to the report market vacancy has risen from 9.29% to 10.12% in the city. According to Zacher, the strength and stability of the Fort Wayne office market has lessened the effect of the pandemic than that of bigger cities.

“The Fort Wayne office market will position it for resilience in an economic downturn, and will bolster it for a timely recovery,” Zacher’s report stated.

Several downtown-area projects in the works have given optimism to Fort Wayne’s forecast, including the Ashberry building and Electric Works which will both offer office space.

“It’s been about a ten year trend,” Zacher added from inside his Main Street office. “If you look back at it, it was the ballpark that started it all. Then a number of companies chose to come downtown over the past several years.”

According to the report’s total market inventory, there is about 13.2 million square feet of office space in Fort Wayne. 1.3 million of the office space is vacant while 11.9 million is occupied. All three numbers are higher than in 2019.

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