Commercial leasing near Baltimore-Washington International Airport should start to pick up after hitting an all-time low, a commercial real estate firm reports.
In a survey of the Baltimore area, CB Commercial Real Estate Group Inc. found that vacancies near BWI rose from 20.2 percent to 25.3 percent during the first half of the year.
The high vacancy rate can be attributed, for the most part, to just one tenant, said Gary G. Dewey, senior vice president of the leasing and management company.
Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group Inc. is moving out of HTC 270,000 square feet of office space in the Airport Square complex near BWI and into 315,000 square feet of space in a new building at Winterson and Nursery roads in Linthicum. The new building was not counted as vacant space in the survey.
"When a large tenant like that moves out, it has a large impact," Mr. Dewey said.
While tenants were vacating offices, others leased 33,000 square feet of space near the airport.
"Compared to other areas, that is good," Mr. Dewey said. "The amount of empty space is not growing as fast as it was last year."
Many offices became vacant when companies trimmed their work forces to combat the recession. That appears to be happening less and less this year, Mr. Dewey said.
"We'll slowly absorb space, if there's no new construction," he said. With little financing available, he added, no speculative office buildings have been constructed in the corridor since 1990.
The company surveyed 55 buildings, with a total of 4.2 million square feet, in the airport area and 34 buildings, with a total of 1.6 million square feet, in Annapolis, Parole and Severna Park. The survey listed that area's vacancy rate as 12.6 percent.
The real estate group did not include government buildings or buildings constructed for a specific tenant in its report.
The airport area's vacancy rate is likely to drop dramatically during the second half of the year, now that the county's largest office building has been completely leased after two years of sitting empty.
The Army Corps of Engineers will rent 250,000 square feet of space in a 12-story tower in One National Business Park, at Route 32 and Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Real estate industry and county sources confirmed the new tenant will be the National Security Agency.