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More downtown offices sit empty in Windsor than any other Canadian city

Downtown Windsor, Ont. on Monday, June 5, 2023. (Bob Bellacicco/CTV News Windsor) Downtown Windsor, Ont. on Monday, June 5, 2023. (Bob Bellacicco/CTV News Windsor)
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According to data compiled by CBRE Ltd. Windsor, the city’s downtown core has more empty offices than most anywhere else in the continent.

It’s a 41.6 per cent vacancy rate – well above the national average of 18.4 per cent in CBRE’s market research.

Brad Collins, vice president of the commercial real estate firm, wrote a letter to city council ahead of its marathon Monday meeting on the state of the city centre.

In it, he urged city hall to act.

“If you were to have this high percentage of vacancy in a major market, it would definitely be considered a crisis,” Collins said.

41.6 per cent is actually an improvement from the 43.9 per cent peak recorded in February 2023 – but up significantly since 2019, when downtown office vacancies were at 20.4 per cent.

Collins said the pandemic and shift towards working from home didn’t help, but can’t be blamed entirely.

“There was a lot of space that was occupied downtown that wasn't actually being utilized and COVID sort of forced companies to say, ‘Alright, we've got to get rid of this space,’” he said.

He said he’s personally seen many companies opt to set up shop in the suburbs of the city, as opposed to the core.

Some, he said, for all the same reasons downtown seems to get a bad rap.

“Amongst other issues, safety and security is always number one as to why they won't consider downtown at all or why they're looking to leave downtown,” he said.

Collins said he’s happy to have seen city council approve the plan for downtown, and hopes residents all over the city agree it’s important.

“We have to have a positive attitude about it and say we want to take this in the right direction,” he said. “If you want to want to call it a world class city, I think you need to have that vibrancy in your core.”

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