FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arvest Bank today released Skyline Reports on commercial real estate in Northwest Arkansas for the first half of 2018.
During the first half of 2018, the overall vacancy rate for commercial real estate increased to 10.8 percent, up from 9.7 percent at the end of 2017. This increase was the result of 421,692 square feet of negative net absorption across all types of commercial space.
The office submarket demonstrated continued strength, as 134,688 square feet of new office space was added while 165,224 square feet was absorbed, leading to the office vacancy rate being unchanged from the second half of 2017 at 9.1 percent. Researchers at the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas specifically noted the strength of Class A and B office space in Bentonville as being a major contributor to the office sector’s overall positive performance.
The retail submarket, which has been under severe pressure nationally, showed resilience in Northwest Arkansas in the first half of the year. Despite adding 77,000 square feet of new space and the closing of major retailers Sears and Toys “R” Us, the retail vacancy rate remained below 10 percent. The vacancy rate ended 2017 at 8.9 percent and rose to 9.7 percent in the first half of 2018. CBER researchers specifically pointed out that many retail spaces formerly used for selling goods are now being utilized for selling services.
The warehouse submarket was the most significant contributor to the overall total negative absorption as it accounted for 210,335 of negative net absorption, roughly half of the total. Interestingly, this was not because of newly constructed space entering the market but, rather, driven by previously leased warehouse space becoming vacant.
“The office market in Northwest Arkansas continues to show strength and the ability to absorb the new space being introduced in the market,” said Mervin Jebaraj, CBER director. “During this cycle, we were also impressed with the retail market, as it continues to outperform national trends, even as large national retailers close and vacate local retail space. While the vacancy rate increased, it remains at healthy levels, and the market seems to be adjusting to the new retail landscape.
“And while the warehouse sector experienced a very week period in the first half of the year, this has always been a volatile market due to its small size in this area. To have a bad six-month period and still have a vacancy rate of just 8.1 percent tells us that there is no significant reason to worry about the warehouse market as the move to more e-commerce is expected to create sustained, long-term need for warehouse space.”
During the first half of 2018 commercial building permits totaled $188,503,803, a 61.4 percent increase from the $116,812,224 in permits issued in the first half of 2017.
“It is very encouraging to see the commercial real estate market in Northwest Arkansas continue to grow and remain well balanced. We continue to work with our real estate development customers to help them identify the specific types of developments needed to match the growth in the market. Our commercial real estate financing teams will continue helping customers build the right projects at the right place and in the right time.”
Chris Thornton, Arvest Bank of Springdale loan manager
The Arvest Skyline Report is a biannual analysis of the latest commercial, single-family residential and multifamily residential property markets in Benton and Washington counties. The report is sponsored by Arvest Bank and conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam. M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.
In 2004, Arvest Bank contracted with CBER to collect information about the local real estate markets. CBER researchers aggregated and analyzed data from local governments, property managers, visual inspections and the business media to provide a complete picture of the status of property markets in the two counties.
CBER provides excellence in applied economic and business research to federal, state and local government, as well as to businesses currently operating or those that desire to operate in the state of Arkansas. The center further works to improve the economic opportunities of all Arkansans by conducting policy research in the public interest.