Large-Scale Relocations Show Manhattan Has Become A Borderless Office Market
With the economy back in good health, more firms are relocating. And a Colliers International report found that the borders between Midtown, Midtown South and Downtown have blurred, and Manhattan may be transforming into a unified marketplace.
Looking specifically at Manhattan leases of 50k SF or more, Colliers found, the current market hasn’t matched the highs of 2010 and 2011—when relocations made up 54% and 66% of the 50k-plus SF transactions, respectively—but has still been able to keep above pre-recession levels.
What’s interesting is that more than one-fourth of the 50k-plus SF leases between 2011 and Sept. 15, 2016, involved moving from one market to another, a sharp rise from years past.
But where are these tenants moving? Downtown had the biggest net gain of large-scale tenants (5.7M SF) with the WTC submarket alone attracting 4.8M SF of relocations, the most of any Manhattan submarket.
Although Midtown South was able to pull in a large number of tenants from Midtown and experienced a big boost in leasing with Hudson Yards, it still had a net loss of 850k SF. Midtown had the largest net loss, losing 30 tenants and 4.9M SF since 2011. The Plaza District had the largest net loss of any Manhattan submarket, 2.45M SF across 12 tenants.
Professional services firms were the second-biggest sector, accounting for 16% of all market-to-market relocations. Almost half of these businesses relocated to Midtown South and Hudson Yards in particular. FIRE (financial services, insurance and real estate) sector tenants made up 14% of these relocations and mainly moved from Downtown to Midtown, as seen with Namura Bank and Hartford Insurance.
This “borderless” phenomenon Colliers presents has been catalyzed by Millennials, as greater transportation options and a live/work/play dynamic have boosted Midtown South and Downtown's residential and retail development.
Colliers expects the number of large-scale relocations to decrease as we approach another market downturn, but the lower barriers between Manhattan’s three markets makes tenant migration patterns less predictable.