By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: Increased office vacancies create furniture challenge

Truckloads of used office furniture leaving our former downtown newspaper building are a microcosm of financial disturbances in the world of commercial offices.

“America’s offices,” reported The Wall Street Journal in January, “are emptier than at any point in at least four decades, reflecting years of overbuilding and shifting work habits that were accelerated by the pandemic.” The article cited Moody’s Analytics reports that in major U.S. cities, a record-high 19.6 percent of office space was not leased at the end of 2023.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Financial experts point to a domino effect of commercial building vacancies. Lease values dropped; interest rates shot up; mortgage loans with built-in rate increases threw owners into delinquency and even foreclosure; banks heavily into commercial lending faced financial problems taking over reduced-value assets.
An excess of office furniture is one symptom of that financial problem, but a symptom with its own pricetag.

In July, The New York Times reported: “About half of the office space in the New York City metro area in June was occupied … (raising) existential economic and cultural questions, but also a big logistical one: What do you do with all that office furniture? The answer can often be found in the back of a moving truck — en route to the auction block, a liquidator or, more likely, a landfill.”

We offered quality used office furniture for free. Area liquidators, with warehouses full, were not interested. There were no inquiries from businesses, but one nonprofit took advantage of the offer. A number of individuals picked up furniture to fill out home offices, and one even tore apart and hauled away an expensive executive desk for the wood.

We renovated the O’Dell Building in 2000 and enjoyed 20 years of newspaper occupancy. Our downsizing coincided with a surprise need for space by First Federal during 2020-21 construction of its new downtown building — the bank left behind a large array of office furniture that didn’t fit in those new digs.

Thus, Alt Coworking found a turnkey facility as the perfect opportunity to test its shared office space business. That venture closed last year, replaced temporarily by a MacHub gift shop. Today, the O’Dell Building is being renovated again for anticipated spring opening of Nash & Nichol Retail, featuring home furnishings/décor and other offerings.

We, meanwhile, are having the last truckloads of “solid waste” hauled to the transfer station, feeling fortunate to have returned much of it to productive use.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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