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Downtown Boise data shows continued drop in visitors, ‘historic high’ office vacancy

New data for Downtown Boise’s parking garages shows that the area remains far less busy than before the pandemic.

Throughout the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, BoiseDev tracked parking garage usage data from the Capital City Development Corp. to understand the impact of the pandemic on activity in Downtown Boise.

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Now, we’ve got an updated look at the data for the first part of 2021 – and it shows far fewer people parked their cars in a garage space in CCDC’s six downtown garages this year versus last.

Parking utilization dropped in half.

Looking at the number of spaces filled each Wednesday at noon for the last six weeks shows the garages were 28.8% full on average. Traditionally, the mid-day, mid-week timeframe is the busiest for the garages.

For the same six-week period last year – before the pandemic – the garages saw utilization of 60% during the Wednesday noon timeframe.

Though we are now deep into the pandemic, the data shows usage continues to hover around the 30% utilization level we reported last June.

The numbers showed a slight upward trend in recent weeks – from 29% utilization on Wednesday, January 13th to 33% utilization on Wednesday, February 17th.

Office vacancy hits historic high

The data puts numbers to anecdotal evidence that the downtown area continues to see far fewer visitors than before. A number of restaurants closed on either a permanent or temporary basis, while many office spaces remain without workers.

Boise commercial real estate firm TOK Commercial said that while office utilization across the entire Boise market area beats national trends, vacancy in the Downtown Boise area stands at a “historic high” of 11.5%. The figure does not include office space that may have a current, active lease – but no workers visiting in person.

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“Calls from out-of-state companies looking to relocate back office/administrative support continue to be commonplace,” TOK said in its Q1 office report. “With the new construction that has been delivered, and the available sublease space, the Boise market finally has options for such relocations. In 2020, 29 percent of the space leased in the Boise MSA was from businesses new to the area. Another 30 percent of deals were local companies that were expanding with additional locations or growing into larger spaces.”

TOK said a part of the picture for increased vacancy relates to newly-delivered office product, including the large new Class A 11th & Idaho Building which came online early this year. Across the entire Boise market, TOK said one-million square feet of new office space opened up.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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