Las Vegas office vacancy rate soars to record high

Empty space: This office building at the northwest corner of Rainbow Boulevard and Interstate 215 was constructed by Plise Development. It is shown vacant in June 2009.

Las Vegas' empty office space hit an all-time high last quarter as rental rates continued to slide.

The valley’s office market had a record 26.2 percent vacancy rate in the three months ending March 31, up from 25.1 percent a year earlier, according to a new report from Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas research firm.

The average asking rent for office buildings was $1.87 per square foot last quarter, down from $1.94 a year ago. Rental rates have dropped for 15 consecutive months and are down 21.4 percent from their peak, in the second quarter of 2008.

Applied Analysis attributed this past year’s rising vacancy rate largely to two move-outs. The Nevada Cancer Institute, which shut its clinical practice in late January, vacated its 143,000-square-foot building near Town Center Drive and the 215 Beltway. Also, the University of Phoenix left its 40,300-square-foot building near Buffalo Drive and Summerlin Parkway as part of a consolidation.

Despite continued weakness in Las Vegas’ office market, other aspects of the valley’s commercial real estate industry are showing signs of improvement.

The vacancy rate for anchored retail centers dipped to 9.8 percent last quarter from 10.4 percent a year earlier. Average asking rents inched up to $1.49 per square foot from $1.45, Applied Analysis reported.

Industrial space had a first-quarter vacancy rate of 17.2 percent, down from 17.9 percent a year ago. Asking rents were flat at $0.51 per square foot.