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Downtown St. Paul office buildings are emptier than previously thought

Building with no parking sign
First National Bank in downtown St. Paul is one of the properties owned by Madison Equities that has a higher vacancy rate than previously reported, according to Axios.
Mathew Holding Eagle III

Empty downtowns are not a new story in our post-pandemic news cycle. But what is new is just how empty downtown St. Paul office buildings actually are.

Axios reporter Nick Halter dug through documents detailing office buildings for sale by the city’s largest landlord — Madison Equities owned by the late Jim Crockarell — and found the company underreported its vacancy rate to the St. Paul Building Owners and Managers Association.

“He was telling everyone that the buildings were mostly full, and it turns out that they’re more like half empty right now,” Halter said. “And these are some of the biggest buildings in downtown St. Paul.”

That represents about 610,000 square feet of vacant office space that was previously not known about. It would bump the official vacancy rate for all of downtown St. Paul commercial buildings from 22.5 percent to about 31 percent, Halter said.

Listen to full conversation by clicking play on the player head above.