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Updated Jan 17, 2014 - 11:02 am

Economist: Valley commercial real estate recovery years away

PHOENIX -- During the boom times just a few years ago, new malls and office buildings were popping up almost daily across the Valley before the recession left many of them empty.

The Valley's home sales have recovered nicely from rock bottom but it's a different story when it comes to office and retail space. Economist Rick Merritt with Elliott D. Pollack and Company said almost 25 percent of Phoenix's commercial real estate is empty.

"A 12 percent vacancy rate could be considered normal," he said. "It's going to take three to four more years to get back to that number from where we are now."

While this has become a big sellers' market on homes with rising prices and shortages, it is the complete opposite with commercial property, where's there's too much available space but deals can be had.

"Prices are still down but up just a bit from last year," said Merritt. "There's lots of good opportunities out there."

Merritt said the empty office space will never be completely gobbled up because many companies want their own new buildings.

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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