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Office vacancy rate in downtown Calgary to get even worse

Downtown Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, July 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Recent oilpatch buyouts and mergers are going to make an already bleak downtown office vacancy rate look even worse in 2021.

RELATED: Cenovus Energy and Husky Energy merge 

Shareholders of Cenovus and Husky approved a merger this week — after a deal was reached back in October — which will mean about 2,000 jobs will be eliminated, many of them in the downtown core.

Greg Kwong with the CBRE group says he’s never seen a vacancy rate this high.

“What people are particularly looking at is really the downtown core. If you focus on just the numbers there, we’re closer to 29.5 per cent year-end for 2020.

“Certainly in the past 30 years, I’ve never seen it this high.”

He adds that the everyday Calgarian might not have noticed the empty offices downtown.

“To the average person, the high vacancy rate in the downtown core really doesn’t mean much until you say well that’s because there are anywhere from 60,000 to 120,000 people not working in the downtown that were working here five years ago,” Kwong said.

He says the impact of COVID-19 and the change to working from home isn’t fully known yet, as he believes many companies will want their workforce back in the office at least a few days a week.