Jennifer Barrett • www.jbarrettart.com
If you’ve been paying attention to St. John’s politics recently, especially the Fortis and Woolworth’s property debates, you’ve probably heard the term “Class A office space” thrown around a lot, and how there is a shortage of it here in the city.
You also may have wondered,“is my office ‘Class A’?”
The bad news: Probably not. The good news: There’s nothing official stopping you from saying it is.
“Class A” is a term created and used in real estate circles to designate a category of prestigious office space. The definition from the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA—a real estate industry group) defines Class A buildings as the “most prestigious buildings competing for premier office users with rents above average for the area.” These buildings have “high quality standard finishes, state of the art systems, exceptional accessibility and a definite market presence.” So, basically, it means new, classy, and with lots of cool doodads.
“I don’t know if you know, but the vacancy rate for class A office space is something like 0.2 per cent,” said mayor Dennis O’Keefe in a meeting earlier this year. Where did he get that number? I’m not sure, and for him to give such a specific amount is misleading. How can you quantify something as subjective as prestige?
BOMA themselves admit it’s difficult, and they recommend against calling a specific building Class A or B…
Say if I were to build a nice, new building next to what people called a “Class A” office building here in St. John’s, it would probably seem more “Class B”, because in comparison, it would be less prestigious.
The term is also self-applied. I could put a cardboard box in my back yard and no one could stop me from marketing it as “Class A office space.” They may also think I’m crazy, but whatever.
Of course, I don’t mind an industry using their own terms, but I wish our elected officials would stop slipping us invented statistics.