Public deals help city to record office take-up

Of Liverpool's 520,000 sq ft take-up in the city centre office market last year nearly 70% came from two public sector lettings, a report confirmed today.

Total city centre take-up came in at a record 519,274 sq ft, according to the Liverpool Commercial Office Market Review 2009, published today by Liverpool Vision and Professional Liverpool.

In 2008, take-up in the city centre was 245,289 sq ft, largely due to a drop in public sector activity. Take-up in 2007 was 462,875 sq ft.

The 220,000 sq ft deal with UK Boarder Agency at The Capital, owned by Downing, at the end of the year and 140,000 sq ft to transport body Merseytravel at Neptune/Countryside's Mann Island in January 2009 showed the continued reliance on public sector occupiers in the city. Both are also relocations from elsewhere in the city.

The report shows that during 2009 there were just three city centre deals of more than 10,000 sq ft, a drop from five in 2008.

Take-up of office space in the city region excluding the city centre fell 33.3% to 131,220 sq ft.

The number of occupiers signing up for refurbished space also fell by half. There was also a mixed picture in the out-of-town market. Knowsley remained resilient in the face of the recession with take-up down just 0.3%.

The report adds that the freehold office market "vanished" in 2009, dropping to 4% of all deals, compared to 30.3% in 2008.

The supply of available Grade A city centre office space reduced during the past year from 222,000 sq ft to 178,000 sq ft.

Liverpool Vision chief executive Jim Gill said the figures represented a "very good performance in the face of challenging economic conditions".

He added: "Liverpool is still well positioned to resume its growth once the global economic situation recovers, but the private sector is yet to return fully to the market, reflecting the continuing impact of the world financial crisis on occupier confidence."

The dearth of major private sector lettings is a concern, but Professional Liverpool chief executive Mark Chadwick insists Liverpool is doing no better or worse than other regional centres.

He said: "Last year was a very difficult year for all cities and to record such impressive take-up is remarkable."

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