Retailers and restaurants in downtown Raleigh are increasing, while viable street-level spaces are decreasing.
That's one of reasons that the Downtown Raleigh Alliance's Storefront Inventory Report recommends setting aside funds (possibly reinvigorating the city's downtown loan pool program) that can be loaned to landlords and retail tenants to do minor and major upgrades to downtown spaces.
The report also recommends gauging interest of office users of "prime storefronts" giving up their space to retail operations. Other recommendations include encouraging owners of property being held for redevelopment to sell or lease street-front space and recruiting other traffic generators, such as clusters of businesses, a grocery store and a major national retailer.
Since 2010, retail businesses in downtown ground-floor storefronts increased 35.2 percent while dining businesses had a net gain of 19.3 percent, according to the report released today by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for economic development and quality of life improvement in the general downtown area.
In 2014, the store-front vacancy dropped to 8.8 percent compared to 10.2 percent in 2011. Only 29 percent of the vacant stores were available for lease, the report states.
However, Downtown Raleigh Alliance Planning and Development Manager Bill King said that space restrictions will ease in the next 18 months as new developments come online.
Most of the downtown businesses are independently-owned operations, lauded for their larger contribution to the local economy versus national chains, and the increase makes Raleigh "one of the largest concentration of independent retailers in the region," the report states.
Since 2010, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance has been monitoring retail opening and closings in a 110-block downtown area, which is roughly bordered in the north and south by Peace Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Boylan and Bloodworth Streets serve as the area's west and east borders.
The Alliance uses the information to track trends and identify opportunities to improve the downtown economy.
The Fayetteville Street district's gain of six new retailers marks the largest increase in the downtown district as the area is clearly benefiting from its clustering of businesses near a mix of office towers and residences. The Warehouse District's net gain of five retailers ranks second and includes new destination retailers, such as Videri Chocolate Factory, Raleigh Denim, and Oak City Roasters, which all rely on retail and production facility models.
Glenwood South and Moore Square had a net gain of two and one retail store, respectively.
Higher turnover is expected in the districts with commercial areas such as City Market, but the trend also highlights a need to bring more traffic to the areas, the report states.
Average rent for all listings was $18 per square foot, with a range from $15 to $26.50 per square foot, according to the report.
The complete report can be found here.