Now that the fury over District 6 and 7 comprehensive rezoning is over (except for any future lawsuits), it seemed like a good time to take a closer look at the current rate of vacancy in the commercial real estate market.
Informally, we surveyed the vacant space by driving around Edgewater and Davidsonville.
In Davidsonville, that consisted mainly of the strip mall at the intersection of Patuxent River Road and Central Avenue.
In Edgewater, the retail vacancies were more widespread, including the Mayo Peninsula, “downtown” Edgewater on Mayo Road, and vacancies at a half dozen malls and shopping centers along Solomons Island Road (MD-Route 2). In addition, “For Lease” signs were up at nearly all of the medical and office buildings in Edgewater.
Dave Weisel, president of the consulting division at Delta Associates, said that the commercial vacancy rate in southern Anne Arundel County is one of the lowest in the Baltimore metro region. At 10.3 percent vacancy, the area known as “Anne Arundel South” is faring well.
The overall vacancy rate for Baltimore metro area commercial vacancies is 13.6 percent.
In fact, southern Anne Arundel is second only to an area identified by Weisel as “Baltimore County West,” which has a commercial vacancy rate of 9.7 percent.
According to Weisel, these rates include subleases of commercial properties, which makes the numbers give a clearer picture of vacancies.
In general, the Washington area has had a low commercial vacancy rate throughout the economic downturn. In April 2011, Bloomberg News reported that the DC Metro area rate was at 9.2 percent, while the national rate was 17.5—down from a high of 17.9 the year before.
Historically, after a recession, the vacancy rate for commercial properties rebounds after employment figures begin to rise.
Employment data for Maryland, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Maryland’s unemployment rate is tracking in the right direction from a high of 7.6 percent in December of 2009 to 7.2 percent in July of this year—not a big change, but it is trending downward.