By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published July 12, 2013
CBC Hamilton has published a revealing story about mixed messages on commercial vacancy rates in downtown Hamilton. The story can be boiled down to three quotes:
According to an annual commercial survey of downtown core office space by Blair, Blanchard and Stapleton Real Estate, downtown Hamilton's commercial vacancy rate was sitting at 22 per cent in 2012.
Blair, Blanchard and Stapleton only measure commercial space over 20,000 square feet
This shows that Hamilton is still lagging behind the GTA when it comes to large commercial entities, but smaller boutique shops downtown help the core's vacancy rate drop.
The obvious conclusion is that that the demand for large office and commercial space downtown is very low, but that the demand for smaller commercial space downtown is relatively strong.
In fact, this is what the small business people and landowners downtown have been saying: there is good demand for well-renovated historical building space downtown.
Mr Blanchard, please remind us again why you want to demolish buildings that provide uniquely desirable small boutique spaces and replace them (maybe, eventually) with undesirable large commercial spaces?
Blanchard's own data tells us that it would make more sense in today's market to renovate the space in your existing buildings. There just aren't enough big tenants for the large-scale commercial spaces his demolition project would provide. Unless he has an anchor tenant already signed on, this seems like a very risky proposition.
But then again, maybe Blanchard is thinking of the future. Just possibly, in five or ten years, large commercial spaces in downtown Hamilton will be in high demand again. And those empty lots fronting Gore Park will be just the ticket in 2020 when "Target or whatever" wants to open a brand new store downtown.
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