Downtown mall loses more retail tenants
The increasing number of empty stores in the Downtown shopping complex is a "fact of life", the centre manager says.
Four areas inside the Palmerston North mall, sandwiched between Main St and Broadway, are vacant – the former sites of Native clothing, children's goods retailer Junior, Radius Pharmacy and Capers Cafe.
Two sites have been empty for some time – Radius moved to The Plaza when it was redeveloped in 2009 and Native stopped trading months ago. More recently, Junior has moved to Broadway and Capers has only just decided to leave. It is believed the cafe will be relocating.
In all, that leaves Downtown with about 580 square metres of untenanted space.
Centre manager Greg Key said the empty spaces were just part of business. "Business changes and we are going through a few changes.
"No-one wants [empty stores], least of all the property owner."
He said businesses that had moved had not been defaulting on leases and had not been kicked out of the complex.
"They have made decisions and, in a few instances, [they have been] to relocate to other areas of the city or to close down.
"It is a fact of life that some people are wishing to make changes."
Mr Key said it was not uncommon for a vacancy to come up without someone to move in immediately.
The general public would just see the empty stores, but other work had quietly been going on behind the scenes, he said.
"We're not out there spouting about it, [but] we have had some long-term renewals in the centre.
"We are just quietly going about it in our quiet way, and thanking retailers' commitment to the centre."
Downtown was not the only place with empty stores, and there were plenty of other places around the city with untenanted spaces, he said. "We are all out there battling away.
"I talk to people from a lot of other places and hear what's going on in other places – it's not all happy stories, unfortunately."
Mr Key said the economic downturn and negativity around it had put people off from wanting to spend in retail stores. This in turn made retailers wary about committing to long-term leases.
All the centre could do was put the best offer forward possible to try to entice people in, he said.
This included keeping Downtown looking up to scratch. "We keep the centre tidy, but we're looking to put more money into it to try to make it better," Mr Key said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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