Then in 2010, area shoppers and retail landlords saw some signs of improvement as the national economy started to recover. Commercial property rental rates softened, allowing prospective new store and restaurant owners to bank on improving consumer confidence and open new locations.
After a period of significant store contraction, liquidations, and closings, a handful of retail chains last year revealed plans to enter the Michiana market with one or more stores. Two local business groups purchased struggling strip centers and announced substantial redevelopment plans for those complexes.
While store and restaurant closings have continued, the pace seems to have slowed. Nationally, experts expect retailers in 2011 to shutter at about the same pace, or closings to decrease slightly year-over-year.
Retail real estate leasing is starting to recover, and it appears the number of store and restaurant openings in the new year should outnumber closings for the first time since the economy began its decline in 2007.
That is the hope, at least.
Industry and local commercial real estate experts agree the markets appear to have stabilized, although banks remain very cautious about retail lending. The brisk pace of national retail sales in recent months and availability of empty storefronts in our area should mean more leasing activity than the sector saw in 2010.
It can’t get much worse than the past few years.
In the South Bend area, companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Einstein Bros. Bagels have announced plans to add a few new locations. At Eddy Street Commons near Notre Dame, Urban Outfitters is expected to join the corridor, according to construction plans and current tenants. The final retail and restaurant spaces at Eddy Street could be leased in the months ahead if retailers continue to step up expansion campaigns.
Some believe the new Apple Store may lure more upscale tenants to Mishawaka’s University Park Mall, where Flat Top Grill and Teavana are moving in.
As the credit markets continue loosening, making funding available for viable business expansions and start-ups, leasing could ramp up both at the newer north-side shopping centers such as Heritage Square, City Plaza and Toscana Park, and on the south side of South Bend.
Ground is expected to be broken in the spring on a new development at the former North Village Mall property in South Bend. While that site is earmarked for a combination of retail and restaurants, the new local owner of University Commons shopping center in Mishawaka will continue transitioning that property into a medical complex.
Some economists are predicting that consumer spending could return to pre-recessionary levels by the end of this year. If this happens, many retail companies are well-positioned to meet that demand, having scaled back expansion plans during the past few years.
Continued activity is expected from value retailers, including Dollar General, Family Dollar, and others who are stepping up plans nationally to open more locations for price-conscious consumers.
At the same time, some shopping center owners have started opening their complexes to tenants that previously didn’t fit their profiles. Landlords are now leasing to professional offices and other businesses, because the tenants they were looking for stopped making deals due to the recession.
Last Sunday, Kurt Janowsky detailed plans for his future downtown South Bend restaurant, and we announced a contest that offers you the chance to name the venue.
Janowsky is offering the winner of the name he selects $500 in dining certificates to his new restaurant, which is expected to open in February at American Trust Place, located on the corner of Michigan and Washington streets.
The response so far has been tremendous. Many interesting ideas and names have been received. Keep your ideas coming! The contest deadline is Jan. 16.
Have you heard?
A 3,950-square-foot Levi’s Outlet store is headed to Lighthouse Place outlet center in Michigan City, according to a state construction report. ... Great Clips is planning a new 1,200-square-foot salon location at Goshen Commons, 2024 Lincolnway East, Goshen, a state construction report indicates. ... Our next live chat is planned from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday. Join our discussion about local retail and restaurants.