Downtown Northampton business report: Foot trade flat, 14 empty storefronts though earnest projects on horizon

NORTHAMPTON — The city forsaken information on a health of downtown Northampton business Monday, information that provides both certain and disastrous indicators for a altogether commerce.

The news — gathered by Northampton mercantile expansion executive Terry Masterson and expelled by a city’s website — shows that downtown Northampton has 14 dull storefronts, high sell rents compared to surrounding communities and plateaued feet traffic.

But it also tells of projects in a works that could attract some-more visitors, such as a Pulaski Park restoration and expansion, the Northampton Community Arts Trust’s performance, enlightenment and preparation core on Hawley travel and Click Workspace’s expansion.

The news follows a unreasonable of downtown Northampton business closings in a past 6 months, including a Mercantile, Hinge, Berkshire Yogurt and Western Village Ski and Sports. Two businesses — Deals and Steals on Main and The Hempest — changed to circuitously Northampton locations with reduce rents.

Masterson pronounced that a news is an try magnitude a cost of using a business downtown opposite building and sell let prices. It’s one approach of gauging either a prevalent indication of business is tolerable and will lend to a abounding city core, he explained.

“There’s a lot of review around if lease is during market, next marketplace or above market,” Masterson said, after adding, “We wish to indeed start to magnitude them opposite other sell markets.”

Empty buildings

According to Masterson’s numbers, downtown Northampton has 190 shops, 32 percent of that are food venues. Forty stores — or 21 percent — sell books, jewelry, wardrobe and specialty items.

Downtown Northampton has 14 dull storefronts, or a 7 percent cavity rate, a information shows. There are also 7 vale buildings and properties, including a long-vacant spaces that housed Kathy’s Diner on Strong Avenue and a First Baptist Church on Main Street.

Masterson remarkable that it’s vicious to demeanour during how fast these dull spots are being filled before sketch conclusions about Northampton’s commerce. He forked to a 8 downtown businesses that have non-stop in a past year, including The Grateful Hound, that progressing this month took over Deals and Steals on Main’s aged location.

And soon, the former space assigned by Subway will be taken over by Pita Pocket, a sandwich emporium that also has a store in Amherst. Subway sealed on Jan. 28 and renovations have already begun in a space.

When presenting a information to a Northampton City Council’s cabinet on village resources Monday night, one member asked if a 7-percent cavity rate is “normal.” Another asked what mercantile pressures could be causing these dull storefronts. Masterson was wavering to answer those questions.

“It’s not as bad as we suspicion it would be,” he replied. “I consider these questions merit a improved answer and will have to work on that.”

Masterson pronounced that it’s best to demeanour during any particular business’s reason for withdrawal Northampton, as they vary. For example, Western Village Ski and Sports sealed down after 37 years in a city given a owners wanted to retire. Owners of Iris Photo, another bequest business, gave a same explanation.

One cabinet member suggested that a city control exit interviews with business owners to improved know closings, that could maybe forestall them in a prolonged run.

Is a sell lease too high?

High sell lease costs are mostly given as an anecdotal reason for store closings. In meetings in late 2014 — in a arise of the Business Improvement District’s dissolution — Masterson pronounced a volume some downtown business owners were profitable for lease rivaled rates seen on Boston’s Newbury Street.

The new investigate shows that Northampton’s sell let cost averages are identical to Amherst’s, though starkly aloft than circuitously communities such as Chicopee and Holyoke.

A representation of sell rents for Northampton uncover an normal of $27 per block feet in “downtown center,” and by a same metric $37.50 on Main Street. But on circuitously King, Center and Pleasant streets, those rates operation from $20 to $29.

Amherst’s normal sell lease is $29 per block foot, Masterson said. In comparison, Chicopee and Holyoke’s both lay during $10.50.

Flat feet traffic

Masterson reported “flat feet traffic” for city attractions such as a Academy of Music, hotels, museums, a summer unison series, as good as First Night and Sidewalk Sales events.

The Calvin Theatre, Iron Horse, and Pearl Street Nightclub — all owned by internal businessman Eric Suher, who also owns several dull properties in a city — did not news assemblage numbers.

“The assemblage total … uncover high though low total for 2012-2014 with an boost in 2015,” Masterson wrote in a report. “The 2015 boost could in partial be attributable to a newly non-stop Fairfield Inn and a Amtrak Vermonter service.”

Tax income collections uncover that hotel clientele has plateaued given 2012, a investigate said, with an boost of scarcely 10 percent in 2015 and 21 percent for a early partial of 2016.

“This expansion might be attributable to a opening of a new Fairfield Inn, however these income numbers might decrease in 2016 due to a new closure of a Clarion Hotel,” Masterson said.

Meal taxation and parking revenues have also remained comparatively prosaic between 2012 and benefaction day, a investigate shows.

Masterson pronounced that this information is generally important, given building owners might not be means to clear augmenting sell rents if businesses aren’t creation any some-more income than they were a few years ago.

City Council member Gina-Louise Sciarra remarkable that Americans are eating out reduction following a recession.

“But this says it’s a sincerely unchanging series here,” she pronounced of Northampton grill feet traffic.

Masterson pronounced he skeleton to recover identical mercantile indicator reports on an annual of biannual basis.