Downtown vacancy rate stays level, despite pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't prompted a spike in commercial vacancies downtown, according to data released by the city on Tuesday.

The City of Prince George's 2020 Downtown Occupancy Study showed an overall commercial vacancy rate downtown of 12.67 per cent – down 0.03 per cent from 2019. 

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The report was based on survey data gathered in July. 

"After reaching an eight-year low at the end of 2018, Prince George’s downtown vacancy rate increased only slightly in 2019 and remained at about the same level in 2020 – even during the months following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," a statement issued by the city said. "Also, commercial high-rise buildings (four or more floors) reported a 5.1 per cent vacancy rate in 2020, which is roughly a 50 per cent decrease in vacancy from 2019."

An additional 987 square metres (10,624 sq. feet) of commercial floorspace was added downtown since the city's last report in August 2019.

Between August 2019 and July 2020 there were 28 new business license applications and 16 development permit applications downtown, the report said.

The vacancy rate for street-level commercial properties downtown was at 13.41 per cent, while upper-level properties had a 11.22 vacancy rate.

Retail and service locations had more than double the vacancy rate of office spaces downtown – 18.96 per cent for retail/service, compared to 8.63 per cent of offices.

The city has conducted the surveys annually since 1983.

"The information gained provides a valuable snapshot into the occupancy of Central Business District buildings for that calendar year,' the city statement said. "The findings assist in redevelopment and revitalization efforts to maintain a healthy downtown core."

The full report can be found online here: www.princegeorge.ca/Business%20and%20Development/Economic%20Development%20Documents/2020%20Downtown%20Occupancy%20Study.pdf.

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