This post originally appeared on tBL member Michael Kushner's blog Omni Realty Group and is republished with permission. Find out how to syndicate your content with theBrokerList.

In third quarter 2015, the Central Pennsylvania submarket for commercial office space showed some positive trends for growth and demand. We have four projects under construction that will deliver more than 400,000 square-feet to the market within the coming year, with a majority of this space already preleased.

However, this promising news for the market is tempered by the fact that many tenants will vacate other office space within the Central Pennsylvania market to occupy these newly constructed office buildings. How will this impact net absorption and vacancy rates? Let’s first take a look at the data for third quarter 2015 and apply this toward what we can expect to see in the future.

Select Top Under Construction Properties

Currently four different commercial office properties are under construction in the Central Pennsylvania submarket. The Cornwall Health Center, located in Harrisburg Area East, broke ground in fourth quarter 2014 and is scheduled to be delivered in fourth quarter 2015. It has an RBA of 54,234 square-feet and is 100% preleased. The TecPort Business Campus – Building A broke ground this quarter and is scheduled to be delivered in third quarter 2016. It has an RBA of 7,590 square-feet. It is not preleased and its quoted rental rate is listed as negotiable.

Additionally, a Class A office space project is under construction at the intersection of Carlisle Pike and Hogestown Road. The two buildings that make up this project have a combined 259,000 square-feet of space are expected to be completed in spring 2016. Finally, there is Class B office space at 1250 Camp Hill Bypass that is under construction. Its 82,000 square-feet of space is 100% preleased.

Select Deliveries this Quarter:

Although four of the top 15 Select Year-to-Date Deliveries in 2015 were from the Central Pennsylvania submarket, just one was newly delivered in third quarter 2015. The Vista Plaza consists of three floors and 32,500 square-feet of office space. It is 45% occupied and is currently priced at $21.23 per square-foot. ECI Constuction, LLC completed the new addition to Vista Plaza on Manor Drive in Mechanicsburg, PA. The addition nearly doubled the original square footage of the building by adding a new wing to match the existing wing. Some of the current tenants include Duck Donuts and MS Consulting, Inc.

Rental Rates:

This quarter showed an increase in quoted rental rates. The current price of $17.14 per square-foot is a $0.07 increase from last quarter and the highest rate we have seen since prior to 2011.

Vacancy:

In third quarter 2015, the vacancy rate in the Central Pennsylvania submarket for office space decreased from 7.8% to 7.5%. The vacant square-footage also decreased from 4,120,331 square-feet to 3,962,599 square-feet.

vacant space and quoted rental rate

Absorption and Demand:

With one more building being delivered to the market this quarter, the total RBA increased to 52,581,663 square-feet. Net absorption also experienced a substantial increase, more than tripling last quarter’s 50,466 square-feet to the 190,232 square-feet that closed out third quarter 2015. But take note, both net absorption and vacancy rates will soon be greatly impacted by the 400,000+ square-feet that will be delivered to the market in the next year!

deliveries, absorption and vacancy

Our Summary/Analysis:

Central Pennsylvania has four under-construction office space projects that have a combined 402,824 square-feet of space that is soon to be delivered to the market. As new inventory is added, with many tenants vacating existing space in Central Pennsylvania to do so, we can expect this to impact net absorption and vacancy rates significantly.

It will be important to closely watch this data over the coming quarters as some of these large projects reach completion. As a result, we expect net absorption to drop back into the negatives. Also, we expect vacancy rates to rise as high as 8.1% (assuming no outside business move into the market or existing businesses expand which has not been the trend in 2015, but was in 2014). Quoted rental rates may also dip because of this increase in vacancy.

While new construction certainly has its benefits, adding this much square-footage in such a short amount of time to the market can have some not so desirable effects from the standpoint of landlords and sellers. On the flip side, businesses looking to move or expand within Central Pennsylvania should be encouraged by the larger and more competitive selection of space available.

How do you anticipate new office space construction impacting the Central Pennsylvania market into the future? Share your personal insights – or ask a question by commenting below!

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