(Photo by Holly Quinn)
In 2013, more than 20% of the office space in Wilmington — an area that includes the Wilmington Central Business District (CBD) and the suburban areas of North Wilmington, West Wilmington and South Wilmington — was vacant. By the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the Q4 Market Report by commercial real estate advisory firm Newmark Knight Frank, even with the increase in vacancies brought on by Bank of America’s withdrawal from the Bracebridge complex (former MBNA) after its sale in 2018, the market ended 2019 with 16.3% vacancies, a drop of three tenths of a percent over the previous quarter.
Still, it’s higher than the 15.5% vacancy rate of the Q4 2018, and the market forecast isn’t predicting another drop over the next 12 months.
Where Wilmington saw a big gain in 2019 was in capital markets sales, which more than doubled the previous year with a volume of $133.4 million. This included out-of-market investors like the D.C.-based Douglas Development Corporation coming into the market.
The trends toward biotech and fintech are reflected in the office market report: A new $38 million, 100,000-square-foot building in development on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus site will serve the fintech industry, and construction is continuing on a major R&D facility for Chemours on the same campus. Incyte, the fast-growing biotech company that develops cancer pharmaceuticals, will be expanding over 50 acres in the Augustine Cutoff area, after purchasing 20 acres from the nearby Wilmington Friends School for $50 million.
Sallie Mae expanded into an additional 54,000 square feet in Wilmington South, DetDOT increased its occupancy by 19,000 square feet in Wilmington South and coworking community The Mill has expanded, both in the CBD and with a new location in Wilmington North.
The lowest vacancy rate, 9.8%, is in Wilmington North, which also has the highest average Class A asking rent of $31 per square foot. That’s compared with per-square-foot rates of $22.83 in Wilmington South, $29.42 in Wilmington West and $27.96 in the CBD.
The full reports can be accessed on Newmark Knight Frank’s website.-30-
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