A depressed global economy that has seen rents fall dramatically in most major cities has knocked per­ennial front-runner Lon­don out of the top spot among the most expen­sive to set up an office.

But Toronto and Calgary remain in the global top 50 because Canada has been relatively healthy compared to other financial centres, according to a report by CB Richard Ellis released yesterday.

Toronto is the 46th most expensive place to rent top-quality office space, up one spot from last year, with average rents of $51.82 US ($57.57) per square foot. That’s down from $62.44.

Calgary moved up three spots to 39th, with average costs per square foot of $54.57, down from $66.27.

“It’s not that Calgary and Toronto did all that great; it’s that other world markets have taken a bashing,” said John O’Bryan, vice-chairman of CB Richard Ellis. “We took one step back but the rest of the world took five. They got hammered.”

The No. 1 holder, London’s West End, was knocked off this year by Tokyo’s central district.

The most expensive office location in North America remains midtown Manhattan, although rents there have also dropped significantly, down 30 per cent to $68 per square foot.

In Toronto, vacancy rates for office buildings jumped to 7.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to CB Richard Ellis.

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