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Antwerp dips but still remains buoyant

Image of Post X: Architectura
Image of Post X: Architectura

In its latest report on the Flanders office market, real estate advisor JLL takes a close look at the largest city in the region, Antwerp. It finds that to date (end of the third quarter) 2018 is quieter than the flamboyant 2017, occupier take-up amounting to 84,971 sm, 35% below last year. Compared to the 5-year average, however, it is up 30% and the Q4 outlook is promising. Among transactions for this last quarter of the year, in mid October, the Karel de Grote high school acquired the former headquarters of Proximus along the Meir.
The KdG will occupy 33,000 m by 2023 after redevelopment of the building, leaving its current premises in the centre that will be redeveloped into residential.

Take-up by the year end will largely exceed 125,000 sm and 2018 could be the second best year ever after 2017 when volume came in at an exceptional 103% above the 5-year average, with181,000 m.

Looking at some of the transactions in new projects, VF Corp took 7,500 m in The Link, the Christelijke Mutualiteiten and Philip Morris took 3,807 m and 2,540 m respectively in Post X, and Dimec will be the first occupier of the Gate 7 in Kontich (Periphery) with a surface area of 1,100 m. Where the number of deals is concerned, JLL has recorded 145 over the first three quarters of 2018, just one less than last year, but 26 more than the 5-year average.
Immediate supply has decreased by 6% year on year to 187,000 m at the end of the third quarter, and despite completions the volume of new availability remains low at 16,242 m.


The vacancy rate, JLL points out, has eased to a new low of 8.7% against 9.2% at the beginning of the year, which is its lowest level since the first quarter of 2014 (6.2%). Completions in Antwerp this year amount to 54,000 sm, of which 81% in the Ring district (Post X and The Link) and 19% in the Centre (Kievit Fidea, Arsenaal Zuid and Liberty Island). Of all this, 52% was speculative at the time of delivery. An extra 44,000 m will be completed in the fourth quarter, of which 26,000 m for the new headquarters of the Province of Antwerp (Centre), and 16,900 m in two units of the Post X. Altogether, completions in 2018 will be close to 100,000 m for the first time since 2009.

Looking further ahead, for delivery by 2020 some 121,000 m is underway or projected of which only 16,129 m is speculative. With an average yearly surface consumption of 87,000 m (2017 excluded), there is a risk of shortage should the demand remain as high as today.

Rental values

Prime rents have stabilised at their all-time high of 155 / m / year, this level having been achieved in the Engie Tower (Central Station).
In the Ring, prime rents are 5 lower at 150 / m applicable to The Link, while asking rents on the Post X are 145 / m / year. Looking forward, most new projects trade at above 160 / m / year, so an increase looks likely.
The situation is different for second hand properties, as average rents have hardly changed in the last 12 months at 110112 / m / year, and top quartile rents have also stayed about the same on a yearly basis at 141-144 / m / year.
On average, rents for new (existing or projects) buildings in the Ring district have climbed to an all-time high of 146 / m / year against 135 / m / year over the preceding five years, though on a yearly basis top-quartile rents in Antwerp as a whole are unchanged at 141 / m
Weighted average rents are moving upward as well to 120 / sq.m. / year, 8% more than a year ago.
Tim Harrup
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