De lege winkels van het plein lopen vol, ondanks de aarzeling om de upgrade te verstorenaugustus 23, 2019
Some of the prospective tenants for the empty shops around The Square are waiting to see what happens with the ongoing $26.6 million Streets for People central city upgrade before committing.
Empty shops around The Square are slowly filling up as businesses try to strike the right balance between moving in and the possible disruptions of a multimillion-dollar upgrade for the area.
The Manawatū Standard counted 12 empty retail spaces, approximately 17 per cent of the shop space, in The Square over the weekend – although several were already spoken for.
Professionals commercial real estate agent Steve Williams said the market for retail space had grown quite tight since the city’s economy rebounded from the 2008 financial crisis, and there weren’t usually many sites available.
However, some prospective tenants were waiting to assess how much their new business would be disrupted by the Palmerston North City Council’s ongoing $26.6 million Streets for People central city upgrade, he said.
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For example, Professionals had an interested party holding off on moving in to the former Hyde Jewellers store near the corner of Main St and The Square, which has been empty since Ross Hyde moved the family business into Coleman Mall last year.
“They are waiting for some clarity on the timing of the work from the council because they would prefer to get in after all the disruption is done,” Williams said.
“[While] it’s pretty frustrating at the moment, it will be good for business and everyone in the city when it’s done.”
Despite this, Professionals have found a tenant to take over from The Square Skate and Apparel.
Williams said the space was under contract for a national retail franchise, although confidentiality prevented him from saying which one for another few weeks yet.
Professionals also lists one of The Square’s longest vacancies, a second-storey space on the corner of Fitzherbert Ave that hasn’t had a tenant since Fishies on the Square – a revamped version of Fisherman’s Table – closed down in 2009.
Williams said they had been close to signing a new tenant a few times – including a deal with an international family restaurant chain that fell apart at the last minute – but it never quite happened.
Colliers International real estate agent Janine Hodgson said the north side of The Square, which had four of the 12 vacancies, was undergoing a slow transformation.
As shops either moved to another part of The Square, like Goldfinch & Cousins, or closed down, like Bargain Bonanza, the majority of interested tenants were food or service businesses.
Hodgson said it had been a relatively overlooked area in the past, but this new trend seemed to be an extension of the success hospitality businesses have had on Broadway Ave.
Barbershop and “man space”, Hard Man’s Habitat is set to open in the old Bargain Bonanza space near the corner of Rangitīkei St and The Square, which has been empty for close to a year.
Owner Bryony Christie said she and business partner Damon Wright started negotiations for the lease in January.
They had hoped to open in late February, but that proved too optimistic since big changes were needed for the former homeware and gift shop. It required architectural design and passing through additional hoops in the consents process on top of the planned installation of sinks and barbers chairs, she said.
Christie said the barbershop had been her dream for six years, and it was exciting to finally get it going.
Hard Man’s Habitat will have beauty therapy and a bar licence, TV screens and games and capacity to host functions. Christie expected it would be ready for its grand opening by the end of the month.