Class A office space, meanwhile, is down to 4 percent, and the only large chunks of older, lower-rate office space are the troubled First National Center and the Dowell Center (formerly Midland Mortgage building) that is closed and slowly being renovated.
In such a market, why did the prospect of building housing, or even offices, atop the new garage fail to draw bidders?
Cost, as always, remains the simple answer. One developer who looked at the project explained that rental rates for such space would run at $3.50 per square foot to break even when the current market, at best, can support $1.75 a square foot.
Office space, according to this same analysis, would need to lease at more than $30 a square foot when the market at best might support $25 per square foot.
The concept of more sophisticated mixed-use urban development, however, is now a part of the widening discussion of downtown's future. And for that, this failed effort might not be seen as such a failure in years to come.