Tampa Bay’s office market is showing the first signs of strain since the novel coronavirus pandemic forced employers to transition to a work-from-home model seven months ago.
The most telling data point is the increasing amount of office space available for sublease across Tampa Bay — which JLL Inc. says has hit a historic high of 1.5 million square feet at the end of the third quarter. Nearly 700,000 square feet of sublease availability has been added since March, when the pandemic arrived on U.S. shores…
Covid may have accelerated some trends’
It’s too soon to speculate what the long-term implications of the pandemic might be for the office market. Some household names in Tampa Bay — AdventHealth’s West Florida division and Tervis Tumblers — have already declared remote work a win and plan to shed some of their current real estate. Others, like Heritage Insurance, say they’re fully committed to in-office workers; Heritage in early October announced a 90,000-square-foot office lease and equity stake in Westshore City Center.
Franklin Street founder Andrew Wright, whose investment firm Ally Capital owns the Westshore City Center, says he doesn’t foresee a mass exodus from the office market.
“I do think we’ll see downsizing,” Wright said. “I just don’t think it’ll be a 10-year trend.”