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Detroit's office vacancy reaches 23% despite residents returning to in-person work

Posted at 5:39 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 18:37:40-04

DETROIT, MI (WXYZ) — COVID-19 has transformed the way we work and where we work.

Some have returned to either a full-time or hybrid model. Others remain at home.

But in downtown Detroit, the office vacancy rate is still trending upward despite many people returning to in-person work.

According to the Chicago real estate brokerage firm JLL which has offices in Royal Oak, Detroit vacancy is at 23%, up nearly 2% year over year. This information comes from their 2022 quarter 1 report.

In September, they released their annual skyline report for Detroit and it says their just above a 10% vacancy rate in a total of 21 buildings from the core of downtown Detroit to the new city area totaling over 10 million square feet.

Most of that vacant space according to the study, is at 211 West Fort Street, otherwise known as the Renaissance Center.

GM and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan are the big occupiers of that space right now.

"Companies are flocking to the best of environments and in our industry, we call it flight to quality. And as return to work is happening which is happening around the country, people are finding their way back to the office," JLL's managing director A.J. Weiner said.

And when they return to the office after nearly 2 years of being at home, they want to return to an office that is more open and inviting. A space they are excited to be in.

"And companies are seeking out those types of environments for their people," Weiner said. "Pre COVID you might settle on something as an employer that needed space. Well, this is the best we can do. Now they're saying we don't want to settle."

"People are going back to work and it's about what kind of environment can we get to get my people engaged and to recruit as well," Weiner adds.