Carter / Running on empty

“High office vacancy rates should be the concern of all Canberrans wanting Civic to be a dynamic destination,” writes property columnist CATHERINE CARTER

EMPTY office buildings have an impact on Canberra’s street level vibrancy – particularly in our CBD.

Catherine Carter.

Catherine Carter.

High office vacancy rates should be the concern of all Canberrans wanting Civic to be a dynamic destination.

While vacant office space in Canberra has decreased slightly over the last six months, our city still has the second highest vacancy rate in the country.

Vacancies in Canberra have decreased marginally from their record high of 15.4 per cent to 15.3 per cent over the last six months, according to figures released last week in the latest “Office Market Report”.

The Property Council of Australia’s report says this decline is due to a slight increase in demand as well as withdrawal of office stock from the market. But with a vacancy rate second only to Perth, we need a lot more office withdrawals to revive our CBD and town centres.

Vacancy rates for A and B-Grade stock have fallen, while C-Grade vacancy has risen to 18.7 per cent – the highest on record.

This statistic confirms what Canberrans see each day with their own eyes. Many of Canberra’s older buildings – particularly in Civic – are tired and in need of some TLC.

The challenge of renewing office stock is also one of Canberra’s great opportunities.

Converting old offices into apartments, hotels and retirement living developments can be a driver for positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.

But to achieve this, we need industry, government and the community working together.

On Thursday, September 10, the Property Council, Canberra CBD Limited and Canberra Business Chamber will host a “Civic forum” to examine the challenges facing Canberra’s CBD – including the office market vacancy – and how collective urban leadership can provide solutions. Every Canberran with an interest in the future of our city is welcome.

Registrations and information at

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia

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