CORONAVIRUS: SAFETY MEASURES FOR BUSINESSES FORCED TO TEMPORARILY CLOSE THEIR PREMISES

Originally published by Allianz Risk Consulting

INTRODUCTION

As more businesses are faced with shutting down their operations temporarily due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, we have developed the following collection of possible loss prevention measures which can serve as a guide to help you individually plan for a temporary shutdown.

 

All of the recommendations are technical advisory in nature from a risk management perspective and may not apply to your specific operations. Please review recommendations carefully and determine how they can best apply to your specific needs prior to implementation. Any queries relating to insurance cover should be made with your local contact in underwriting and/or broker.

 

We remain available for your loss prevention needs. Please contact your local ARC representative if you have any questions or want to discuss any specific issues.

LOSS PREVENTION MEASURES

The measures listed below can help to prevent or mitigate the impact of damages occurring during a shutdown. However, this is not a comprehensive list and must be checked by the business against its actual requirements and circumstances and planned individually:

 

COMBUSTIBLES

  • Reduce the quantities of combustible materials located inside the buildings as much as possible. Combustible materials may include raw and finished goods, packaging, pallets, waste, dust, lint, oil, flammable/ combustible liquids,
  • Ensure safe separation distances (1.5 m or 5 ft minimum) are maintained between all electrical equipment and combustible
  • When prudent, ensure all technical rooms (i.e. mechanical, electrical, etc.) are free of combustible materials.
  • Verify all external combustible storage is located a safe distance away from the buildings. This distance varies depending on the combustibility of the storage and the building construction; however, provide at least  15  m (50 ft) separation if

 

COMBUSTIBLE AND FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

  • Place all combustible and flammable liquids in appropriate storage areas (i.e. cutoff rooms, safety cabinets, etc.). When prudent close or seal all storage containers.
  • Remove all waste rags for safe disposal off-site.
  • Ensure essential ventilation systems continue to operate, if required, for removal of flammable vapors.

SERVICES

  • Shut down all hazardous process equipment and utilities, where possible and operationally appropriate, including nonessential flammable liquid and gas
  • Check whether you can isolate services at the mains and drain all water systems down, except water for fire sprinklers, fire pumps, etc., which should always remain operational.
  • Maintain temperatures at or above 5°C or 40°F for any areas with water-filled piping, such as fire sprinklers, fire pumps, process equipment, etc., unless otherwise required for operational
  • Check whether electricity can be shut down for the premises, except where needed for fire alarms, fire protection systems, security systems,
  • Park all powered industrial vehicles in a fire segregated room or in an area free of combustible

BUILDING SECURITY

  • Fit quality security mortise deadlocks on all entry/exit doors, taking into account company
  • Secure all windows with any applicable
  • Where possible, and considering escape routes, lock entry posts to prevent unauthorized caravans/ vehicles from
  • Isolate electric roller shutters if
  • Maintain any security systems. The prevention of false alarms (such as from wildlife, temperature and humidity, etc.) should be achieved by removing the cause and not by turning off the systems or isolating affected
  • Check whether you can shut down all nonessential electrical lighting if possible. Keep only the minimum level of lighting where appropriate for inspection, security patrols and access
  • Ensure all building access keys are accounted for by use of a key logbook. Change locks if they are
  • Record and list all visitors and contractors. Ensure building entry and lockdown procedures are available and adhered
  • Immediately repair any breach in building or perimeter security.
  • Make all efforts to arrange for a manned 24/7 guarding presence at the site or overnight patrols by an approved guarding firm or plant representatives. Any patrols should be at random intervals and times to ensure any pattern is not

PREMISES INSPECTIONS

  • Visit the building(s) periodically (at least weekly is recommended) and maintain detailed records of all observations. Correct all noted deficiencies promptly.
  • For health and safety reasons, if possible no person should be allowed to enter the building(s) unaccompanied or without the use of an efficient communications method. Always notify a colleague that the building is being entered and of the expected duration of the
  • Verify the following as part of the inspections:
    • All exterior building openings, such as doors and windows, are properly secured to prevent unauthorized
    • All electronic monitoring systems (i.e. fire alarms, fire pumps, security systems, etc.) appear to be in good working condition (i.e. power on, no alarms, ).
    • All fire sprinkler systems, including water supplies such as fire pumps and water tanks, appear to be in good operating
    • No signs of unauthorized entry, vandalism or
    • Proper maintenance of building and
  • Remove evidence of vandalism/graffiti and block any broken windows/entry points immediately when they are

MAINTENANCE

  • Maintain the building in a good state of repair.
  • Make sure the building is watertight by suitable repairs (i.e. roofs, guttering, etc.)

FIRE

  • Make all efforts to inspect, test and maintain all fire protection and detection systems to remain operational, including the following:
    • Fire alarm systems, including automatic fire detection.
    • Fire sprinkler systems, including monthly recorded inspections of sprinkler control valves to ensure they remain locked in the open
    • Fire pumps, including weekly or monthly testing to verify proper operation; see fire pump inspection checklist
    • Fire protection water supplies, including water tanks.
    • Fire extinguishing systems.
    • Portable fire extinguishers.
    • Fire doors.

To continue reading and download the fire inspection checklist, visit https://www.agcs.allianz.com/content/dam/onemarketing/agcs/agcs/pdfs-risk-advisory/ARC-Coronavirus-Shutdown-Of-Facilities-Loss-Prevention-Measures.pdf 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business owners concerned about ‘perfect storm’ for break-ins during COVID-19 crisis

The article below is reprinted from CTV News regarding Toronto, Canada based non-essential business properties. While this is a Canadian article, we foresee break-ins being an issue in United States-based non-essential businesses as well. Commercial Asset Preservation is available and able to repair and secure properties that have sustained damage. We also can provide oversight for dark or closed properties. Contact us to discuss your property needs.

Business owners concerned about ‘perfect storm’ for break-ins during COVID-19 crisis

TORONTO — Non-essential businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being targeted in a series of break-and-enters in Toronto.

The Federal, a restaurant near Dundas St. W. And Dufferin St., had its front door smashed in early Monday morning. The owner says the thief broke in and stole a laptop and cash, and estimates the incident will set him back about $6,000 during an already uncertain time.

“There’s no guarantee that we’re going to be able to make it through this,” Zach Slootsky, the owner of The Federal, told CTV News Toronto. He fears the restaurant, which was opened eight years ago, will not be able to survive much longer.

“We have a three-month plan, for now, we had a three-month plan before the break-in and that sets us back maybe another month,” he said.

“While we’re waiting here in limbo, we’re exposed and we just have this criminal liability that criminals are exploiting now.”

Fashion house Horse Atelier, near Queen St. W. And Bathurst Ave. was targeted last week. Co-founder Heidi Sopinka said the burglar deactivated their alarm system and stole about $3,000 worth of clothing. They also ransacked the store, destroying clothing and damaging the property.

“As you can see it’s a perfect storm,” Sopinka said. “All the stores are closed and empty and everyone’s at home. And the prison system is at capacity, and the judicial system is shut down.”

She worries as businesses sit vacant during the mandated closure of non-essential services they are an easy target for criminals. Horses Atelier has now added security cameras to act as a deterrent for future break-ins.

Other businesses have been boarded up as a preventative measure, and some restaurants have posted signs indicating there is no cash or alcohol kept on the premises.

Toronto police say they have seen the number of commercial and residential break and enters “fluctuate” over the past few weeks, but don’t have hard data to share.

“We expect if we drill down into those numbers we would see an increase in commercial break and enters and a decrease in residential break and enters,” Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said. “We are watching that closely.”

break in

Gray said police have introduced targeted patrols in areas that may be more susceptible to crime.

“That’s being led at the division using intelligence led data to determine any possible hotspots to make sure that as police officers do their regular patrols day to day, that they’re visiting those areas,” Gray said.

Independent business owners, who have been seeing little to no income for weeks, say break-ins are a devastating blow during desperate times.

“If we’re exploiting each other’s weaknesses right now when we’re all weak, we’re not going to make it through this,” Slootsky said.

Business owners can refer to the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) for advice on how to protect their business property, and be a less appealing target.

Commercial Asset Preservation COVID-19 Response

Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) offers in-person oversight of your temporarily closed properties nationwide

covid-19-commercial-asset-preservation

Commercial Asset Preservation specializes in closed/dark property oversight and maintenance. Only CAP has the national network, experience, and detailed closed property reports to conduct recurring visual exterior inspections. Our experts look for evidence of vandalism, security concerns, and life safety issues.

CAP’s commercial general contractor network not only identifies issues of concern but also can perform emergency repairs without delay. Rest easier knowing that you have someone checking on your buildings and protecting them when they are most vulnerable.

Contact CAP (216) 765-1220, inquiries@commercialpreservation.com

Commercial Asset Preservation Seeking National Sales Executive

Commercial Asset Preservation is seeking a National Sales Executive. The National Sales Executive is responsible for creating new business opportunities for Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP). We are seeking a motivated professional to help us continue to grow our presence in the commercial real estate maintenance industry throughout North America.

Responsibilities

  • Identifies business opportunities by locating prospects and evaluating their position in the industry; researching and analyzing sales options
  • Utilizes personal or CAP’s existing relationships to facilitate introductions to potential clients
  • Sells products by establishing contact and developing relationships with prospects; recommending solutions
  • Responsible for developing strong retail, restaurant, and property management industry connections to help identify prospective clients.
  • Prospecting for potential clients, including cold calling, research, in-person meetings, and industry conference participation.
  • Submits sales materials, including customized drafted letters/emails to prospects
  • Aids CAP management in the creation of new marketing materials
  • Conducts sales presentations via the web or in-person
  • Conducts organized follow up with prospective clients
  • Attends industry tradeshows and represents CAP at the company trade booth
  • Maintains professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops; reviewing professional publications; establishing personal networks; benchmarking state-of-the-art practices; participating in professional societies
  • Contributes to company social and traditional media communications
  • Monitors competition by gathering current marketplace information on pricing, products, new products, delivery schedules, merchandising techniques, etc.
  • Recommends changes in products, service, and policy by evaluating results and competitive developments
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed
  • Provides weekly sales report to President/COO
  • Conducts organized follow up with existing clients

Skills and Qualifications

  • Minimum 2 years of selling services to retailers, restaurants, property owners and other commercial property management personnel
  • Established relationships in selling services to retailers, restaurants, property owners and other commercial property management personnel
  • Ability to uncover client pain and sell pain-based value
  • Ability to express ideas clearly in oral and written communications
  • Ability to perform basic math skills, including managing expenses
  • Ability to navigate Microsoft Office Applications and PowerPoint
  • Ability to work independently and to be coached on a regular basis
  • Willingness to frequently travel throughout the United States
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred

CAP Offers

Many outstanding benefits including a competitive base salary with commission, PTO, paid holidays, and company contribution toward health/dental insurance.

Submit resumes to insulm@commercialpreservation.com

Reis: National Retail Vacancy Experiences First Drop Since 2016

Reprinted from Shopping Center Business

One trend in the retail sector is the conversion of empty big box stores into self-storage facilities. For example, Aston Properties transformed a former Kmart store in Monroe, North Carolina into a 70,000-square-foot self-storage facility.

New York City — The national retail vacancy rate fell 10 basis points to 10.1 percent in the second quarter, according to New York City-based commercial real estate data firm Reis. This is the first time in which vacancy has declined since the first quarter of 2016.

For context, in the second quarter of 2018, the rate had risen 20 basis points to 10.2 percent and remained flat at that rate through the first quarter of this year. The tightening of available space is in contrast to the larger talking points about U.S. retail, which often claim a “retail apocalypse” is upon us as e-commerce continues to cause a sea change in how Americans shop.

Reis information comes from its database of commercial real estate property information, spanning 77 primary metro areas.

Both the national average asking rent and effective rent, which nets out landlord concessions, increased 0.4 percent in the second quarter. At $21.39 per square foot (asking) and $18.73 per square foot (effective), the average rents have both increased 1.7 percent since the second quarter of 2018.

Mall outlook

The regional mall vacancy rate rose 30 basis points in the first quarter to 9.3 percent, the highest rate for mall vacancy since the third quarter of 2011, according to Reis. This came in the midst of a number of chains announcing store closures, including JC Penney, Payless ShoeSource, Charlotte Russe and Gymboree. The rate remained flat into the second quarter.

The performance of both malls and neighborhood centers will likely be affected by the continuing store closures throughout the second half of the year. Yet the stability of the trends this quarter shows how the retail sector has been able to withstand structural changes in the industry to some extent, argues Reis.

“As big-name anchor stores clear out, a number of stores continue to open,” says Victor Calanog, chief economist for Reis. “Grocery stores have been a leading new occupant of those vacant spaces over the past year or so, as have home/houseware stores, gyms/fitness, discount variety stores, discount clothing stores and even trampoline parks.”

Absorption stays strong

Store openings have led to strong occupancy growth this quarter, as net absorption outpaced new construction for neighborhood shopping centers. Net absorption for the second quarter was 2.4 million square feet, nearly double the previous quarter’s absorption of 1.29 million square feet. New completions measured just 1.49 million square feet.

When broken down by metro, the statistics show that few cities — 21 of 77 — experienced an increase in vacancy for the quarter. The figure was down from 28 metros in the first quarter. Metros with the highest vacancy rate increase include Columbia, S.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; San Antonio; and St. Louis. Metros with the biggest decline in vacancy include Chattanooga, Tenn.; Tacoma, Wash.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Greensboro, N.C.; and Columbus, Ohio.

In sum, Reis argues that the retail sector has been able to ward off the worst of the “retail apocalypse” premonitions so far. On the supply side, empty big box stores have been converted into self-storage or sold to developers for redevelopment, former shopping centers have been demolished and there has been a general slowdown in building within the sector.

With minimal construction in the pipeline, vacancy rates were able to stabilize a bit this quarter, though the retail sector will likely see fluctuation ahead.

“A number of stores are still expected to close in the second half of the year and online shopping continues to offer stiff competition to brick and mortar stores,” says Calanog. “Older stores that are not keeping up with new business strategies or modernizing will likely continue to suffer and close in this tumultuous time. Still, the retail sector has been able to adapt to industry restructuring in a number of ways.”

To view the entire story, visit https://shoppingcenterbusiness.com/reis-national-retail-vacancy-experiences-first-drop-since-2016/

Why You Should Consider Adaptive Reuse for Your Commercial Property

adaptive-reuse-commercial-property

Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an old property site or building for a purpose other than the use it was originally built or designed to accommodate. At Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP), we are experienced in preserving commercial properties so that adaptive reuse can occur at properties anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. Learn our top tips for determining if your property is a good candidate for an adaptive reuse project.

Reasons to Consider Adaptive Reuse

While creating a new revenue stream from a vacant building is often the primary reason behind adaptive reuse, landlords can realize so much more. The property owner stands to gain community goodwill, improved market perception, tax credits, and re-utilization of existing property and materials when repurposing a vacant commercial building. Adaptive reuse does not need to be permanent, another consideration can be to provide temporary re-utilization of your building. One example of temporary use is a seasonal pop-up store, which can generate revenue at an otherwise vacant structure. A second temporary use is applicable to larger spaces where the building can function as a staging or care area during the time of a natural disaster.

 

Tax Credits with Adaptive Reuse

When adaptive reuse projects involve historic buildings, developers can often look to tap into a federal tax incentive program known as the historic rehabilitation tax credit. This program generates a credit that directly reduces taxes rather than offering a tax deduction such as depreciation, which reduces taxable income. The credit is intended for income-producing properties and is flexible: for example, if a property originally was used as a hotel, it can find new life as an office building or multifamily project. More information on the historic tax credit can be found in this article.

 

How to Determine if Adaptive Reuse is Best for Your Property

Adaptive reuse is a consideration when the concept or retailer in your property is no longer viable or able to draw a crowd. If the building is a former big box store consider subdividing the building to bring in several new tenants. Adaptive reuse involves seeking tenants outside of the traditional retail marketplace such as:  schools, hospitals, medical centers, community centers, municipal buildings, call centers, entertainment venues and more. Work with local leaders, brokers, and consultants to get a flavor of what might be missing in the area that you can fulfill through adaptive reuse. Nearly any type of reuse option beats a vacant building if build out costs can be controlled.

 

Where Should Adaptive Reuse be Employed

Site location is a primary factor to consider when determining if your property is a good candidate for adaptive reuse. Those buildings which are located in a city center and were once a high traffic location are the most likely candidates for adaptive reuse as these structures catch the attention of municipal officials who desire to have vibrant buildings in the core of their community. Typically, these buildings have deteriorated a bit, but they may have unique physical characteristics and perhaps historic architecture which make the building worth remodeling. A great example of this is Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco. In 1964, the old chocolate factory became the first successful adaptive reuse project, as the property was converted into a specialty retail and dining complex.

It is essential to choose a team that you can trust to protect your property and leave it in a condition where adaptive reuse is a good investment.

Learn more about CAP’s vacant property services, which will help aid you in getting your property ready for adaptive reuse.

 

Potential Issues in Adaptive Reuse Projects

Cost and building codes are two of the biggest challenges when converting an old building to a new use. It is essential for your buildings to be accessible and safe, which can be a big hurdle to overcome when working with older buildings. Often times, the building’s electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems need to be gutted and replaced entirely in order to meet current safety and environmental standards. Complying with ADA standards may necessitate additional expense. Other important considerations are the credit quality of the new tenant and the potential liability of the business that tenant will be operating in the repurposed space.

 

Why You Should Choose CAP for Your Adaptive Reuse Project

CAP is experienced in giving vacant properties new life and has worked on preserving properties for adaptive reuse projects across the country. Throughout our years in business, we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. CAP feels confident in saying that it has experienced nearly every conceivable scenario of what can happen to a building. We use our experience and extensive contractor resources to provide clients with a cost-effective solution that places their property in a condition that meets the needs of the client and the municipality while retaining property value and making the building ready for its next life. Considering adaptive reuse for your property? Contact CAP at (801) 461-8250 or inquiries@commercialpreservation.com.

 

How to Choose the Right Commercial Property Maintenance Company Partnership

commercial-property-maintenance-cap

At Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP), we understand that commercial property owners and retailers wear many hats! Some of the many priorities they juggle include operating their daily business and managing finances and personnel. Of equal importance is the physical appearance of their properties. Are the properties inviting to the consumer, the tenant and city officials? In order to keep tenants happy and to make their property appealing to consumers, commercial property owners and retailers seek property maintenance companies to take on a multitude of tasks from landscaping to plumbing and remodeling.

Choosing a property maintenance company that your organization can trust is invaluable to keep your facilities in great shape. As experts in commercial property repairs and maintenance across the United States and Canada, here are some tips to consider when selecting your maintenance team.

 

Understanding Your Needs and Expectations

It is essential to have a clear idea of the type of assistance you need from the property maintenance company and what tasks you expect them to perform. Do you want your maintenance team to provide repairs on an as needed basis or do you want them to perform preventative maintenance, or both? Do you only want the property maintenance company to work on the inside of your property or do you want them to maintain outdoor areas, such as parking lots and landscape, or both the inside and outside?

Finding a provider that specializes in the services you require and has a track record of success is critical. At CAP, our staff has provided property maintenance, repairs, and inspections at more than one million properties.

 

Consider Property Location When Choosing a Provider

An important factor when determining the correct maintenance provider for your facility needs is to consider the location or multiple locations where your properties operate. Do you need help with one property, multiple properties in a regional area, or 30+ properties located across the country?

Most property maintenance companies can provide service in specific regional areas or in large cities, but struggle to provide services in rural communities. Many of our customers choose CAP because we cover all of the United States and Canada without any quality or delivery time difference from one location to the next. In fact, CAP performs as much work in rural communities as it does in metropolitan areas.

Therefore, you no longer need to search for individual vendors to repair an entry door at your operating retail center in Atlanta or winterize your vacant office building in Zigzag, Oregon. Simply contact CAP and services in both communities are handled promptly using its extensive network of licensed local maintenance professionals.

 

Screen Potential Providers

You should screen your property maintenance company just like you would a tenant at your building or a potential employee. Conduct research to check into their background, whether they work with companies such as yours, and always ask for references. Find out how long upper management has been in place. Learn how they plan to communicate with you. Will there be dedicated personnel for you to speak with? Determine the hours that they operate and who answers the phone during non-standard hours. If you use an external facilities maintenance data platform, does the property maintenance provider have experience working with that system? Conduct research on the Internet to see if the property maintenance provider is involved in legal issues or has problems paying their vendors in a timely fashion. These extra steps take time, but they are worth it to ensure you choose a reliable and trustworthy company to work at your property.

Commercial Asset Preservation feels confident in saying that it has experienced nearly every conceivable scenario of what can happen to a building. We use our experience and extensive contractor resources to provide clients with a cost-effective solution that places their property in a condition that keeps tenants and municipalities happy and makes their property appealing to consumers. Let us use our know-how to help simplify your property maintenance needs. Contact CAP to discuss your property maintenance needs at 801-461-8250 or inquiries@commercialpreservation.com.

Columbus plans to transform nearly vacant Fair Oaks Mall

Reprinted from WTHR

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WTHR) – Even with a strong start to the holiday shopping season, brick-and-mortar shopping malls are struggling.

In fact, America’s malls haven’t been this empty in years, with tenants vacating store after store.

That includes Fair Oaks Mall in Columbus.

But the city has a unique plan to transform the space into a community recreational and sports tourism complex.

It’s expected to be a record-setting Cyber Monday. But that online shopping surge against a sobering backdrop for brick and mortar malls, where this year, mall vacancies hit a seven-year high.

Some of those massive buildings are so empty, they become eyesores in their communities.

That was the worry in Columbus, where Fair Oaks Mall lost two of its anchor stores last year. Most of its other tenants left, too. The mall is only 30% occupied right now: 400,000 square feet on 36 acres, nearly abandoned.

“Our fear was that it would continue to deteriorate,” said Tom Brosey, a consultant hired by the City of Columbus to help with buying and transforming the mall. “We do not want flea markets, fireworks or just general deterioration of the property.”

So the city stepped in and purchased the property for $5.9 million. Partnering in the project are Columbus Regional Hospital and the Heritage Fund Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

Instead of a place to buy stuff, this mall will be a place to do stuff: a recreation and sports tourism complex meant to draw people regionally to Columbus for tournaments and give neighbors indoor recreation and community classes.

“That’s one of our prime objectives is to provide the Parks and Rec Department with indoor programming space for all sorts of activities. There will be space for athletic programming, sports, but also cooking classes, arts programming, wellness programs from the hospital,” Brosey explained.

Right now the ice rink is one of the few indoor sports facilities in Columbus. Brosey says parks and ballfields outdoors are plentiful, but city leaders saw the mall as a potential place to increase indoor recreation.

“We would like turf fields that would be used for all diamond sports – softball, youth baseball and soccer, rugby, lacrosse, all of those sports,” Brosey said.

He says some existing stores may not have to leave the mall. Dunham Sports, the remaining anchor store for example, could compliment a recreation complex.

Read the original story here

Fed Up With Vacant Storefronts, Residents Force Cities To Punish Retail Landlords

Reprinted from BisNow

vacant-storefronts

Coast to coast, bustling retail meccas used to embody a decidedly American pastime: shop till you drop. But empty storefronts across the U.S. have cropped up in places that go far beyond the “retail apocalypse” that has battered suburban malls — and some municipalities are fed up. From retail corridors nestled in some of New York’s trendiest neighborhoods to wealthy bedroom communities just outside of Boston, vacancy signage is becoming more common than glitzy placards announcing a big sale. Bisnow/Julie Littman Empty ground-floor retail space in downtown San Francisco Local governments, wary of landlords who choose to keep their properties empty — sometimes for months and years in the hopes of landing a deep-pocketed tenant — are now responding by exacting financial penalties against these proprietors.

“There was uproar from residents over what these [landlords] were doing and how they were getting away with murder,” said Ali Carter, the economic development coordinator for Arlington, Massachusetts. “

Residents just see a vacant storefront and wish it was a coffee shop or bookstore. They’re peeved.” Arlington began its measure in early 2017. It requires landlords to register with the city and charges them $400 annually for each vacant storefront. When the fees were first levied, there were 17 empty storefronts in Arlington Center. Only six remained by the end of the year.

Larger cities, like New York and Boston, are mulling similar measures. Retail vacancies in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood were up to 11.3% in June — and some parts of SoHo have even hit 20%. In Boston, vacancy rates on the city’s high street of shopping, Newbury Street, were around 10% at the end of 2017. A retail vacancy rate of 5% is generally accepted as the industry standard for a healthy market, according to brokers. But landlords and developers suggest vacancy fees are not the best solution.

“It’s forcing capitulation, and it’s the government injecting itself into the marketplace to get a result they don’t understand,” Fisher Bros. partner Winston Fisher said. Fisher, whose family-run company is one of the largest developers in New York, and others suggest more market-driven solutions, such as pop-up retailers or different leasing agreements, to fill those empty spaces may be better for the long-term support of retail in a community. But even as landlords explore such alternatives, several cities are moving forward with vacancy fees.

Taxation Until Reactivation Wikimedia Commons/Tim Pierce The Capitol Theater building in Arlington, Mass. Other cities are hoping to replicate Arlington’s visible success. Carter has been called to testify on the city’s measure in municipalities across the country. She said, however, each region has to tailor its vacancy regulation to fit market conditions.

“Whatever sort of solution they come up with has to be tailored to their community,” she said. “For the 700 or so businesses in our town just outside of Boston, this is not Greenwich Village. It’s a totally different scenario.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a fee or tax to penalize landlords with vacant retail space.

Other city leaders are advocating a vacancy tax on commercial strips. In San Francisco, neighborhood commercial districts such as the Castro and the Mission District are seeing an increase in vacancy rates, according to a February report by the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Sales tax revenue slowed between 2015 and 2016 and the demand for ground-floor retail space has declined.

In response, Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim are leading the fight for a vacancy tax. Kim told hyperlocal news site Hoodline the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and small business commission should do more to fill vacant spaces. She would consider a vacancy tax “to encourage landlords to rent out these spaces.” Peskin and his staff told Bisnow he is working on a draft to include a vacancy tax on a future ballot.

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley is pursuing vacancy penalties in his city, inspired by Arlington.  Cities see storefront vacancies as a missed opportunity to generate sales tax, which pays for city services, said Lee & Associates Pasadena Founding Principal Dan Bacani, who once served as an economic development consultant for the city of Arcadia, California.

Arcadia, about a 17-mile drive northeast of downtown Los Angeles, is not proposing a vacancy tax but, like many cities across the nation, is grappling with how to deal with empty storefronts. “Some cities have poor opinions of landlords because the space is vacant,” Bacani said. “But implementing a tax will only have a negative effect and further hurt relationships.”

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/national/news/retail/fed-up-with-vacant-storefronts-residents-force-cities-to-punish-retail-landlords-91715?be=%7B%7Bemail%7D%7D&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=mon-13-aug-2018-000000-0400_new-york-re?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser

A Macy’s Goes From Mall Mainstay to Homeless Shelter

Reprinted from The New York Times

macys-homeless-shelter

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Karleen Smith used to work at the Macy’s in Landmark Mall, putting price tags on summer dresses, housewares and the latest styles of shoes.

On Saturday, Ms. Smith, 57, returned to her former store, not as an employer or a customer, but as a resident.

The former Macy’s in this vacant shopping mall outside Washington has been transformed into a homeless shelter.

“It’s weird to be moving into this building. I used to work here,” she said inside the shelter’s common room, which was once the men’s department. “It’s called survival.”

As shopping malls struggle to survive in the era of Amazon, communities are looking for new uses for all the retail space. Some empty stores are finding another life as trampoline parks, offices, college classrooms, and churches.

At the vacant Macy’s in Alexandria, the Carpenter’s Shelter, a nonprofit group, moved into its temporary home last weekend, 15 months after the last shopper rang out. The former store now provides 60 beds, hot meals, and showers for families and for single men and women who are having trouble finding a place to live in a city with a scarcity of affordable housing.

The Landmark Mall was once at the vanguard of shopping.

Opened in 1965, the mall housed the region’s most fashionable department stores, Hecht’s, Woodward & Lothrop and Sears & Roebuck. Boys came to buy their first suit at the haberdasher, and teenage girls could get their shoes dyed to match the color of their prom dress.

Alexandria’s former mayor William D. Euille remembered playing the clarinet in the high school band at the mall’s opening ceremony. “It was the economic engine of the city,” he said.

Landmark tried to adapt over the years. It began as an open-air shopping center and went through an overhaul in the 1980s to enclose the property.

Eventually, the mall succumbed to retail’s propensity to chase after newer, flashier spaces. Developers built larger malls with more upscale brands nearby in Pentagon City and Tysons Corner, siphoning customers away from Landmark.

Landmark’s original anchor stores either have been bought out, went bankrupt or are clinging to life — like many in the retail business. Last year, 6,985 stores closed in the United States, a record number, according to Coresight Research, a retail analysis and advisory firm. This year, retailers are on a pace to close roughly 10,000 stores.

In its final years of operation, the Landmark’s tenants included two dollar stores and a tax preparer. Only the Sears is still operating. A lone, blue inflatable figure dances on the store’s roof, beckoning shoppers.

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