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The Bright Side of Office The Bright Side of Office


The Bright Side of Office: Growth Opportunities in the Urban Core

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The Bright Side of Office examines office trends in North America and 11 gateway cities. The report covers back to office trends, flight-to-quality, demand sectors, migration patterns and more. 

U.S. Office Market Overview

Despite high vacancy and ongoing pandemic-induced shifts in where people work and live, the urban core office market is showing some bright spots. The population out-migration trends in large cities that accelerated early during the pandemic are returning to long-term norms. Top-tier office spaces are seeing increased demand with occupiers committing to working in the office as part of their business strategy.  

Uncover Positive Trends in Urban Core Office Markets

The urban core continues to be attractive to people looking for economic opportunity and vibrant, diverse places to live. Residents have flocked back to these cities, creating opportunity for many occupiers to continue to look at centralized, urban office locations as the best option for their workforce. 

Atlanta Skyline
Atlanta Office Market 

Atlanta’s relative affordability over higher-cost, high-tax markets has played an integral role in its ability to thrive, spurring robust immigration in recent years and helping the region outpace the growth trajectory of the national economy. Consistent increases in foot traffic and office building visitors in several Atlanta submarkets could indicate a stabilization of the office market.  

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Boston Massachusetts skyline
Boston Office Market

Boston recorded low unemployment rates in comparison to other major markets in recent years, a sign of a strong labor market throughout the city. The city has one of the most educated workforces in the nation and recently recorded tremendous growth in the life sciences and technology industries. A testament to the attractiveness of Boston, lease renewals accounted for nearly 25% of total leasing volume in 2023, more than double over the prior year. 

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Chicago Downtown Skyline Along River
Chicago Office Market 

Chicago’s diverse labor pool, central location, infrastructure, and quality of life combine to make the city an economic powerhouse.  As one of the most diverse economies in the U.S., Chicago remained stable throughout much of 2023.  Similar to national trends, flight-to-quality is driving employers to lease space in top-tier office properties, particularly in popular areas like Fulton Market District and along the Chicago riverfront.  

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Dallas Skyline at Dusk
Dallas Office Market

The Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex is a strategic hub for national and international commerce, which is why the city is home to 24 Fortune 500 and 49 Fortune 1000 companies across various industries, including finance, technology, healthcare and telecom. DFW’s thriving economy, central location, support for entrepreneurship and high quality of life contribute to the city's appeal as a prime destination for businesses and individuals looking to flourish. With a growing number of older, obsolete and amenity-light office properties in the Central Business District, an interesting trend is emerging—office-to-residential conversions. 

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Houston Skyline
Houston Office Market 

Houston’s Central Business District (CBD) is a convergence of lifestyle, culture and commerce.  The city’s CBD is larger than some entire office markets in the nation and accommodates a dynamic range of industries including finance, technology and law, creating a resilient workforce. As large leases signed by energy-related companies dominate new leasing activity—both market-wide and in the CBD—Houston remains the Energy Capital of the World. 

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Los Angeles Skyline
Los Angeles Office Market 

Los Angeles (LA) is an attractive location for companies seeking amenity-rich office space in a city with a unique blend of economic vibrancy and cultural diversity. Though the velocity of leasing activity has slowed considerably compared to before the pandemic, law firms, financial institutions and major film and digital entertainment content producers have been critical drivers of recent transactions. Activity has been heavily slanted toward the region’s coastal market with the majority of new deals signed in one submarket in particular: Century City. 

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New York City Area Aerial
New York City Office Market 

New York City serves as a global hub for finance, technology, media and other major industries, offering unparalleled access to talent, investors and potential clients. There has been a growing flight-to-quality trend, driven strongly by the desire to attract staff back to the office. The financial services and legal sectors have emerged as the most active office demand drivers in the city, accounting for 51.3% of total annual leasing in 2023. The average vacancy rate has remained relatively stable over the past three years for top-tier buildings at 13.0%, while vacancy for the overall NYC market climbed to 21.9% during the same period.   

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San Diego Skyline
San Diego Office Market

The San Diego market is primarily suburban, with its downtown Central Business District (CBD) comprising just 15.1% of office inventory. The city’s history as a military port and longstanding support for the defense industry has created a hub of technology and innovation. Tech, telecom and defense currently comprise 36% of tenants in the market compared to just 24.6% for financial, legal and business services.  

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San Francisco North Bay Skyline Aerial
San Francisco Office Market 

San Francisco serves as the de facto capital of the Bay Area and as the global hot spot for technology. The city is known as the hub for startups as well as mature technology companies that are known throughout the world. Despite the severe impacts of the pandemic on the labor market, as of May 2023, the total job count had surpassed its pre-pandemic record high. The emergence of generative AI companies has been a significant bright spot for the Bay Area, as 44% of the nation’s companies reside here.

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Toronto Waterfront Skyline
Toronto Office Market 

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) stands out as Canada's largest and most culturally diverse urban center, recognized for its stable economic environment, high quality of life and abundant talent pool. It holds the position as the second-largest financial services center in North America and is establishing itself as a fast-growing tech hub. The flight-to-quality trend is as much about location as it is about the quality of the building itself, and this shift propelled the Downtown South submarket to the forefront of high-performance nodes in the current cycle. 

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Washington DC Skyline
Washington, D.C. Office Market 

Washington, D.C. is one of the most globally connected cities in the world. A beacon of foreign investment, it is home to over 1,000 internationally owned companies and nearly 400 international associations. Spec suites are in high demand in D.C. because of the flexibility they offer to occupiers looking to quickly scale operations. A favorite of nonprofits and associations, D.C. is home to over 1.8 msf of spec suites.

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David C Smith (image)
David Smith

Head of Americas Insights, Global Research
Atlanta, United States

+1 (404) 853-5310

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Richard Persichetti New York Research
Richard Persichetti

Sr. Director, Americas Local Research
New York, United States

+1 (212) 954-0917

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