For office space, Financial District is out — and Seaport is in

The Boston Globe | By Katheleen Conti
December 25, 2016

An office high atop the Financial District used to be one of the undisputed status symbols of Boston’s business world. Now it’s getting a little lonely at the top.

Nearly 20 percent of the office space on the top floors of buildings in the Financial District is vacant, as the city’s blue-chip companies increasingly trade lofty downtown aeries for new but lower-level digs in the trendy Seaport District.

Data from the Boston office of Colliers International show that vacancy rates for the upper reaches of buildings in the Financial District — floors 20 and above — are at their highest in nearly a decade. And as a whole, the Financial District lost more tenants per square foot in 2016 than any other area in the city, ending up with nearly 850,000 more square feet of vacant space than in 2015.

The Seaport District remains the new “it” address, with companies leasing an additional 400,000 feet of office space in 2016. They include tech companies and old-line businesses, such as the century-old law firm Goodwin, which left its State Street location for 100 Northern Ave.

Other downtown firms trekking across Fort Point Channel for more modern digs include accounting and consulting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers and Boston Consulting Group.

“The Seaport is a truly competitive submarket and has been a draw for tenants from the Financial District,” said Aaron Jodka, director of research at Colliers. “It represents a change in the dynamic within the Financial District itself. Historically, high-rise space is the top-choice space. Firms are [now] paying more attention to their lease costs and have been focusing on the middle of the building or lower portions of the building.”

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