Highwoods seeks to pave the way for next office bldg at MetroCenter in MetroWest

Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties wants to build out a parking lot to support the next office building at its MetroCenter development in MetroWest.

Highwoods filed a determination request with the City of Orlando in mid-January for approval to build a remaining 218 parking spaces to support the future 48,000-square-foot Oxford office building.


Oxford is one of two remaining undeveloped sites within Highwoods' office complex known as MetroCenter. The original Master Plan for MetroCenter dating back nearly 20 years allows for the development of five office buildings containing 440,000 square feet within the MetroWest DRI.

To be located at 6401 Metrowest Blvd., the parking expansion east of the existing 90,000-square-foot Windsor building will enable a future Oxford building site to be shovel-ready "for other prospective companies to expand," wrote Steve Garrity, Highwoods vice president in Orlando, in a summary note to the city.


It's unclear if that indicates Highwoods is pursuing sale of the entitled parcel. Garrity declined to comment on the company's timeline for MetroCenter's next phase.

Highwoods has been actively marketing the Oxford building for pre-lease, seeking one or two tenants for its proposed 48,000 square feet.

The Millenia/MetroWest office submarket had an 11.5 percent vacancy rate and Class-A rent average of $24.86 for more than 2.2 million square feet of inventory in Fourth Quarter 2016, ranking it middle of the pack among 12 submarkets designated by Cushman & Wakefield in its quarterly Orlando office market report.

Orlando's overall office vacancy rate fell to 11.6 percent at the end of December, down 1.9 percentage points from the year prior, and Class-A vacancy mirrored that with a decline by 1.9 PPS to 8.4 percent.

But even with Orlando's office market reaching its lowest vacancy level since 2007, rental rates have not changed significantly over the past year. Class-A rents rose 1.7 PPS to $24.12 year-over-year. Cushman & Wakefield projects that tenant interest will remain high with limited speculative space under construction, and overall rental rates will rise in the coming year.

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