Average asking rent Total vacancy rate
Wichita Office Market
Source: J. P. Weigand & Sons
Wichita office market
Wichita, with about 389,000 residents, is the largest city in Kansas by a
wide margin, as most of the Kansas City metropolitan area that sits 200
miles to the northeast is in neighboring Missouri. A report from NAI
Martens said Wichita’s commercial-construction activity skyrocketed in
2014 and 2015, equaling the total square footage of projects started during
the previous five years. Medical-office buildings were a major driver of the
growth for the local office market as lease rates for top facilities were going
for as much as $24 per square foot.
NAI Martens’ 2017 forecast expects rental and occupancy rates to increase in some areas of the city, but notes that central business district
(CBD) spaces have stagnated, recording the same rental rates as 2008.
Another real estate company, JP Weigand & Sons, said more businesses
will consider relocating to the CBD, with this year’s overall office-vacancy
rate at 16 percent and the overall rental rate at $12.86 per square foot.
What the locals say
“With regard to the [Wichita] office market, a lot of the rent
pressure has been the result of transition within the central
business district. Several years ago, a number of the major
office users relocated to the east-suburb market. … We’ve had
a number of Class B properties that are somewhat noncompetitive today. They’re traditional office-space environments and
don’t really allow for today’s trend toward collaboration, open
spaces, so rents have been somewhat depressed along those
lines. … New technology has allowed for a lot of the [medical]
facilities here to do remote diagnostics in some of these smaller
communities, and that will drive business from those communities back into Wichita as a regional medical center.”
By Neil Pierson
The Sunflower State is capitalizing on its central location.
The Midwest is commonly referred to as the “heartland” of the United States,
and Kansas takes that description quite literally. The geographic center of
the contiguous 48 states is near Lebanon, Kansas, a spot officially established in 1941 before the additions of Alaska and Hawaii.
After many years of conflict between pro-slavery and abolitionist parties,
resulting in the nickname of “Bleeding Kansas,” the territory became the
34th state in January 1861, shortly before the start of the Civil War.
Established as a free state inclusive of African-Americans, Kansas was a central player in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision nearly 100 years later.
The Brown v. Board of Education case, which included several plaintiffs from
Topeka, helped to end legal racial segregation in public schools and ushered
in the Civil Rights Movement.
Although it’s sometimes called the Wheat State or Jayhawker State, Kansas
earned its official moniker of the Sunflower State because of a prevalence of
wild sunflowers. Kansas’ contributions to the nation’s agricultural industry
are undeniable as wheat, grain sorghum, beef and dairy products are
produced in large quantities.
Through the years, Kansas has influenced culture in myriad ways. Authors
Langston Hughes and William Burroughs; musicians Melissa Etheridge
and Martina McBride; film stars Buster Keaton and Annette Bening; and
college basketball coaching legends James Naismith and Dean Smith all
called Kansas home.
The state’s leadership was in turmoil this past spring as Gov. Sam Brownback
was rumored to be leaving for an ambassador’s post in the Trump administration. On the economic front, the state Legislature is working on plans to
raise $879 million over two years through higher income taxes.
The state’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2016 was $153.3 billion, ranking 32nd nationally, and grew 0.2 percent from 2015, far below the national
average of 1.5 percent, the U.S. Department of Commerce said. Finance,
insurance, real estate, rentals and leasing represent the largest industry sector,
accounting for about one-sixth of the state’s GDP.
Heading into the legislative session, the state had a $346 million budget
shortfall for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year, a shortfall some blamed
on previous income-tax cuts. But Kansas was struggling to keep revenue
flowing in oil-and-gas severance taxes, agricultural commodities and
aviation production. n
President, NAI Martens, Wichita