In fact, all major submarkets showed improvement from the year-ago period – except downtown. That 29.8 million-square-foot submarket saw its vacancy tighten by one-tenth of a point to 19 percent from the prior period as it absorbed 24,327 square feet. (An improvement from the more than 107,000 square feet it gave back in the previous quarter.)
Because of the limited number of building owners – Brookfield Office Properties Inc. owns more than 40 percent of the high-rises – landlords were still able to increase rental rates. Asking rates for Class A space increased by a nickel from the prior quarter $3.23 a square foot.
Still, no one is writing downtown off. It saw some of the market’s biggest sales.
The 458,000-square-foot building at 801 S. Figueroa St. traded for $175 million, or $382 a square foot, when Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers bought it from Mani Brothers Real Estate. It was only the second time since the recession began that a downtown building changed hands for more than $350 a square foot.
In fact, investment sales continued to remain the strongest facet of the office market across the county.
“This is the only place investors see value for returns,” said Arty Maharajh, vice president of research at Cassidy Turley Inc. “L.A. is a bargain relative to other global gateway markets.”
Indeed, much of the interest is coming from Chinese and foreign investors. A JLL report this summer revealed that of the $6.4 billion the Chinese invested in the United States last year, $780 million was spent in Los Angeles.
Chinese and Asian investors are also helping to drive development in Los Angeles, which totaled 1.64 million square feet in the third quarter. Shanghai’s Greenland Group is under way on its $1 billion Metropolis project, and Korean Air and Hanjin Group are building the $1.1 billion Wilshire Grand project.
All of which is a sign that the L.A. market is expected to continue to grow through at least the next year.
Jim Kruse, a senior managing director at CBRE Group Inc., said landlords across the county should be encouraged by the third quarter and look forward to the coming year.
“It feels good,” said Kruse. “We track what tenants are touring and are looking to lease; those lists are pretty robust and as good as they’ve ever been.”
Signs are even better for the industrial market. The county reported a vacancy rate of 3.5 percent, down 1.7 points from the year-ago period as about 15.9 million square feet of industrial space was bought or leased. Central Los Angeles was the tightest market, posting a 2.8 percent vacancy rate, with San Gabriel Valley close on its heels at 3.2 percent. With the industrial market virtually full, it’s not surprising that developers are under way on almost 2.9 million square feet across the county.
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