Friday, May 30, 2008

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

On small snippet of the Mayor's State of the City speech jumped out at me.
Downtown office occupancies are the highest they've been since the 70s oil and gas boom.
That is by almost any measure a Damn Lie. It is also a statistic. I work with downtown office space every day. To say that occupancy is higher that the 70's oil boom is at best selective and deceptive, if not downright dishonest.

For a brief time occupancy rates were high in the 70's, and remained fairly high throughout the 80's as more space was constructed. By the mid 80's the new construction had caught up with demand and the oil business was beginning to slow.

During the late 70's and early 80's a number of large new office buildings were built mostly along Poydras street. These include;
  • Pan American Life Center,
  • The Texaco Building,
  • The Mobile Building,
  • The Entergy Building,
  • The Amoco Building,
  • The LLE Building,
  • The CNG Tower,
  • Canal Place,
  • Poydras Center,
  • Place St. Charles,
  • 1515 Poydras,
  • 1555 Poydras, and
  • 1615 Poydras.

With the exception of Pan American Life and Entergy* every named tenant on those buildings has left the city and no similar tenant has replaced them. Pan America has sold their building and is giving up space.

Office space is about at the same level it was in the early 70s with many old office buildings either closed (225 Baronne, New Orleans Centre, the Saratoga Building and the Original Pan American Building) or converted to hotel or residential use. I doubt true occupancy rates are as high as they were then.

The list of high rise buildings either already converted or under conversion includes;
  • FNBC Building
  • Fidelity Building
  • 925 Common
  • American Bank Building
  • Pere Marquette Building
  • Maison Blanche Building
  • Masonic Temple Building
  • Maritime Building
  • Queen and Crescent Building
  • The Old Texaco Building
  • Carondelet Building
  • Southern Savings Building
  • Richards Building
  • Commerce Building
  • 210 O'Keefe
The last major office buildings constructed in the CBD (The LLE Tower and CNG Tower) were built almost twenty years ago. The amount of office space has actually been shrinking since then. It will continue to shrink for some time yet.

To think the downtown office market is healthy is nothing short of delusional.

*as Scott pointed out in a comment Entergy is still here.


nola said...

I absolutely agree with you. Damn Lie.

Scott said...

Entergy is still in the Entergy building

mominem said...

You're Right of course, Entergy is still there, although I think the building was originally called Poydras Plaza and Entergy moved in some time later, although I don't recall exactly when.

Of course Entergy was called Middle South in 1983 when the building was built. It was renamed Entergy in 1989.

Leigh C. said...

That one jumped out at me, too. The reporter on the news picked it apart a little, but not as well as you do.

Maitri said...

I wondered about this, too, given that Chevron just left for the Northshore and Taylor and Eni effectively downsized. A couple of law offices also left (one went to Canal Place, but that's still not technically the CBD).

mominem said...

I always include Canal Place when thinking of downtown office buildings, since it ain't in da' Quarters neither Hon'.

I know the DDD has Canal Street, I always though they also had the block between Canal and Iberville, where the Vieux Carre formally starts.

Since Chevron hasn't completely left yet, I'm they're counting it occupied.

I imagine Chevron would love to sell their building. I believe they also own the adjacent garage on Common.

I can't imagine what anyone would do with it. I suppose its possible they will donate it to someone like Texaco, Pan Am and others have done.

Taylor is being sold, as was Dominion.

Law firms are like cockaroaches, there are always new ones crawling out from under the woodwork.

E.J. said...

Wow, excellent post.