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Even with a pandemic, downtown SLC still needs office towers

SkyFox downtown SLC
Posted at 2:40 PM, Jan 12, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — Even in a pandemic, downtown Salt Lake City is seeing signs of demand for office space.

The Downtown Alliance, a booster group for Salt Lake City's central business district, said that office occupancy rates are now at 51% from 2019 (when it was considered 100% occupied with an estimated 58,000 workers downtown). That means roughly 29,000 people are back working downtown as of 2022.

With the pandemic, many offices have pivoted to having employees work from home. But Dee Brewer, the executive director of the Downtown Alliance does not think there will be a diminished demand for downtown office space.

"It's just changing the nature of that footprint. It's being designed a little differently," he said.

Leases are being negotiated, with some office footprints shifting in 2022. A number of high-rise office towers are coming online or breaking ground. Nadia Letey with the commercial real-estate firm CBRE, said remote work will still be a thing, but more people are coming back into the office. Salt Lake City's downtown office footprint is also seeing increased demand because more companies are moving in and hiring more people.

"We're seeing a big influx in the downtown market. Class A is actually in higher demand than other product and a lot of that again, speaks to industry," Letey said. "What we’re seeing a lot of movement in the downtown area is law firms. What’s interesting is we’re seeing a lot of national law firms that didn’t have a footprint here previously coming into the marketplace."