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Antwerp heading for a record

Post X is the star in Antwerp (Image: Aximas)
Post X is the star in Antwerp (Image: Aximas)

Broker and real estate advisor JLL has analysed the Flanders office market in 2017 so far. It finds that 2017 is an absolute top year for overall take up in Flanders. And that this record is thanks to the Antwerp market. Besides Antwerp, take up was also high in Ghent and Hasselt.

Looking more closely at Antwerp, which is the second largest office market in Belgium after Brussels, JLL says that the third quarter came in at a record high with the long awaited transaction by the Police of Antwerp being materialized. The police acquired a built-to-suit project of 50,000 m² in the Post X (Ring district) with a completion date of 2020. This mega deal, one of the largest ever in Antwerp, contributed to boost take-up to 79,341 m² in the third quarter and to 131,594 m² in the nine month period. To put the Police deal into perspective, JLL also states that the preceding record transaction was Alcatel in 2002 with 37,000m² in the Kievit building next to the Central Station.

The Post X project is proving to be very successful with several other mid-size transactions including Proximus (5,896 m².) and EY (4,740 m². The Link has also been much sought-after with Meetdistrict (5,261 m² Astrea Law (1,853 m² and Uitgeverij Plantyn (1,811 m²).

Looking forward, the transaction pipeline and deals closed early in the fourth quarter suggest a take-up over the full year of around 150,000 m², which would be an all-time high for Antwerp. The transaction by the Police largely explains this performance, although even if this is excluded, 2017 would be excellent compared to the 5 year average take-up of 88,000 m².

Looking at districts, as a result of the multiple lettings in the Post X and The Link the share of the Ring district is at a record high of 57%, followed by the Centre with 25%, the Periphery with 13% and the Port with 5%.

JLL believes that 2018 is likely to be much quieter with a flow of mid-size transactions from corporates, but expects to se a substantial replacement demand from corporates currently located in obsolete, energy inefficient properties. This is especially true for those located in some segments of the Centre where there are also recurring traffic congestions issues.

Finally, analyses JLL, prime rents remain at €150/ m²/year, but an increase to €155/ m²/year is a strong likelihood. A good illustration is the 27% increase year-on-year of weighted average rents, at €144/m²/year, although top quartile rents increased by only 2% over the same period. The occupier market is now more balanced between landlords and tenants, incentives for the best quality properties are minimal.
Tim Harrup
20-12-2017


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