Dark big-box retail space lightens up in Oklahoma City area

The market for available leasable big-box retail space in the Oklahoma City area inched down 2 percent in the second half of 2011, with five store spaces absorbed and three vacated, according to brokers with CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma.
BY RICHARD MIZE richardmize@opubco.com Published: February 11, 2012

The big boxes gave, and the big boxes took away.

They took away a little more space than they gave back to the market for retail space here in the last half of last year, according to brokers for CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma.

Five new leases for big stores were signed, and a library system bought one former store, absorbing a combined 141,800 square feet; but three stores closed, kicking a combined 121,058 square feet of space back onto the Oklahoma City area market, said brokers Mark Inman and Stuart Graham.

The upshot, in terms of available leasable retail space, is that the market tightened by 2 percent, or the equivalent of about one big store: 20,742 square feet, they said.

Graham and Inman have prepared six-month updates on big-box retail space since mid-2010, when the effect of the national recession was being felt with numerous closed national store chains.

Inman and Graham found 1,036,175 square feet vacant in 26 stores in their survey of spaces 18,000 square feet or larger. That was one fewer closed store but a decrease of 17 percent in total dark space since their first report, which counted 1,248,800 square feet.

“Interestingly, the deals done over the past six months are not isolated to a particular segment of the retail spectrum. The deals represent a range of rents and landlord contributions,” Graham and Inman reported. “Thrift stores made aggressive deals on long-held vacancies in Edmond and Yukon. On the higher end, Marshall's leased 25,000 square feet at one of the market's hottest retail corners, Memorial Road and Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Inman called the mix of deals “encouraging.”

“While headlines might be captured by the entry of national retailers like Sunflower and Marshall's, the absorption of space that might be considered more difficult is just as crucial for the overall health of the marketplace,” he said. “Deals for Class B space produce liquidity for landlords to improve their properties or seek additional investment in the market.”