I get emails frequently about vacancies downtown from people concerned that there are more than ever. This is just not the case. The issue is that the vacancies that do exist are for the most part larger properties that catch your eye more than small spaces do. Big spaces are hard to fill because most services and retailers in a town of our size that want to locate downtown want small spaces, or they want to buy the real estate that their business will go into so that they can capitalize on other rental opportunities in other parts of the building to make the whole financial picture go. I’ve had so many inquiries lately about vacancy rates that I decided to find out what our actual rate is.
I added up all the spaces in the Central Business District from the Third Ave. railroad tracks to Highway 6 and from West St. (Highway 146) to Broad St. There are approximately 822,857 square feet of street level spaces inside that perimeter. I say approximately since parking lots are included in that number. Currently, we have 33,837 square feet of vacancy. That means that our vacancy rate is about 4%. Nationally, the vacancy rate for office space is 14% and retail is about 10%.
Also consider that the Biz Nest building (four-story building on Fifth Ave.) added 15,000 square feet of additional office space to our downtown. In the last 24 months, adding the Biz Nests downtown along with Sports Page, Pizza Ranch and Cost Cutters at MidTown tells me that Grinnell’s vacancy rate has actually declined substantially over the last five years.
It’s an exciting time of year. Nine new businesses have either opened in the last month or will open in the next few months. These include six new additions to downtown, two at Midtown and one somewhere in between. The new Solera wine bar has desserts that are out of this world and The Purple Cucumber lets you get a deliciously healthy smoothie and brings a fresh perspective to quick service. And wait until you see what the entrepreneurs at Flowers By Dezyne and Memories Maid have in store. The floral and event shop on Fourth Ave. is taking prom tux and flower orders now, and will be open for full business very soon. (They were placing an order for chocolates this morning, so you’ll be able to cure your sweet tooth there as well).
It’s an exciting time in Grinnell. Please go out and patronize these new businesses, welcome them, embrace them with your pocketbook. While you’re at it, visit all of our fantastic retail, restaurant and service small businesses who are hoping you’ll stop in this week.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate it very much as I do your many emails.