Rates hit by empty shops in Invercargill CBD
Empty shops in the Invercargill CBD are becoming more common as some businesses close and others move to areas with better parking.
If the trend continues it will contribute to a greater rates burden for city households, a city valuer said.
Thayer Todd Valuations property management consultant Trevor Thayer has kept records since 1990 and has become concerned as the shop numbers in the CBD dwindle.
Retail vacancies had increased during the past six months - his survey shows 3370 square metres of vacant space was available in July compared with 2800sqm in January.
In July 2006, about 14 shops were empty in the CBD and, in July this year, about 22 shops were empty, he said.
Mr Thayer expected more shops to close or move out of the CBD in coming months, saying notices had been put up in shop windows.
At the start of this month, there were 10 empty shops in Dee St alone, he said.
Many Dee St landlords were charging the same rentals as 20 years ago ($100-$130/sqm) because of a limited demand for small tenancies, he said.
Some small businesses in the CBD were struggling to survive in hard economic times, while others were struggling to compete with online shopping.
Some retailers were moving because of earthquake regulations but most wanted to move to prime bulk retail locations such as Leven and Yarrow streets, which had ample free parking, he said.
New business owners were also not choosing city centre sites.
A reduction in rental incomes would see property values fall in the July 2014 city revaluation, he said.
"The rating base in the central city is being eroded by falling/static rentals and the seismic earthquake upgrading required, and this may see a greater rates burden fall on the homeowners in the city in the future."
The council had to make the CBD attractive for tenants in the marketplace, Mr Thayer said.
Council finance and corporate services director Dean Johnston agreed a lack of CBD rentals could have a minor impact on general rates across the city.
Outgoing city councillor and former chairman of the inner-city upgrade group Norman Elder said empty shops in the CBD had been the basis for council making the CBD upgrade a priority.
Southland Chamber of Commerce president Sean Woodward said the level of vacant retail space in the inner city was a concern for the chamber and it was actively looking at ways to support retail businesses, particularly in the inner city.
Vibrant Invercargill town centre manager Joan Scarlet said the CBD was falling back to what it had been 16 years ago - few people on the streets and empty shops.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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