Vacant commercial buildings soar despite demand

THE number of vacant commercial buildings increased in the last year, even as a shortage in Dublin becomes a severe problem.

The Independent reports: A new report from GeoDirectory found that 12.4pc of commercial properties were vacant at the end of March, up from 11.4pc a year earlier.

The increase stands in stark contrast to problems in Dublin in particular, where there are effectively no high-quality office blocks available at present.

According to the GeoView report, which tracks vacant sites around the country through An Post, there were 27,791 commercial properties that were unoccupied in Ireland at the end of the first quarter of the year.

Sligo remains the county with the highest vacancy level at 16pc, while less than 9pc of properties are unoccupied in Kerry.

Dublin, which accounts for almost a quarter of all properties in the country, has a vacancy rate of 13.8pc – the fourth highest in the country. In Cork, however, only 11.4pc of sites are without a tenant.

While Dublin has one of the highest vacancy rates in the country, it remains the driving force for a potential recovery in the market. And while large numbers of industrial properties in the Dublin suburbs are without a tenant, in central Dublin there are few, if any, top-quality office blocks with vacant space.

Unlike previous reports, the latest research looked at vacancies in main shopping areas of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny and Limerick.

The average high street vacancy rate came in at 13.5pc, according to GeoDirectory's research.

Cecil Street in Limerick had the highest vacancy rate with 41 per cent of the 61 units there classified as vacant.

Opera Lane in Cork and College Street in Dublin were the only two high streets found to have full occupancy.

The average commercial vacancy rate of the shopping centres included in the survey was 10.9pc. The shopping centre with the highest commercial vacancy rate was the Roxboro Shopping Centre in Limerick where 43.2pc of commercial units were vacant.

Mahon Point Retail Park in Cork and Jervis Street Shopping Centre in Dublin were the only two shopping centres found to have full occupancy.

GeoDirectory chief executive Dara Keogh said the report demonstrated the two-paced recovery seen in different parts around the country.

"Our findings illustrate that there are certainly parts of the country that are feeling the effects of the economic downturn more keenly than others," Mr Keogh added.

Overall, there are 223,336 commercial properties across the country at present.

Quarter-on-quarter, the vacancy rate of 12.4pc nationwide was unchanged.

The report was compiled by consultants DKM and draws its data from GeoDirectory.

The figures are recorded through a combination of the An Post network of 5,600 delivery staff working with Ordnance Survey Ireland.