Run out by high rent
“FOR RENT”: is this the sign of The City’s times?
From the fringes of Bridgetown in places like Beckwith Mall to busy Broad Street and Roebuck Street, “interested persons” are being asked to contact various numbers to fill several vacant commercial spaces across town.
And those who have remained are taking notice of the trend.
Filleul La Foi rents a small one-room space in Beckwith Mall, one of the few operations left there. Time and vacancy had also taken toll on the two-storey structure.
His store in the Lower Broad Street complex is filled with shoes – some already repaired, others waiting to be picked up.
Things have died down at the shop he opened there since 1986. But rent has been on the rise. He reported a 50 per cent increase in the rent in the last five years.
“I stay for the customers and the fact that it is very expensive to make a move. If I could afford it I would have moved,” he said candidly.
La Foi, along with other people operating businesses in The City, pointed to high rents and issues with parking for customers and lack of incentives to tenants as chief among their concerns.
“If everyone is leaving because of the rent, you can find ways to keep them. For example, if you remain current on the rent for three or four months then they can get a month for free,” La Foi suggested.
“Nobody likes town. People have problems with parking and they are just looking for a quick stop: jump out, get it and go,” an employee at another business said. “You can’t do that in town.”
Both she and the supervisor have noticed a decrease in foot traffic, which usually picked up around certain times of the year and at the end of the month. And as the customers waned, so did the tenants who once shared the building with them.
But one property manager believed the vacant office and commercial spaces were not as a result of lack of interest, but rather the inability of some entrepreneurs to generate capital to step out on their own.
“[Potential] tenants are calling and are willing to take the space, but there is a lack of funding. They would tell me that they met with [a financial entity] and were waiting on a call back,” Stuart Davis told WEEKEND NATION.
He managed a century-old building in The City, which housed ten spaces. Of these, he said two were recently made vacant.
“One of the tenants moved to a smaller space and the other had seen decreased foot traffic and moved to Broad Street.”
Davis acknowledged that rent was an issue for some buildings, but believed the ability to get funding to start business was the main challenge.
Furthermore, directors and managers of malls have decided to take different approaches to the shifting cycles of commercial activity.
In addition, managing director of the Sugar Cane Mall, Hallam Payne, said plans were in the works for events and activities in order to boost business.
A strong woman competition, cricket, road tennis and three-a-side basketball were also in the pipeline. Payne said they were planning to start from the beginning of July.
“What we have found is that a lot of companies that want to go into business seem to not be able to be provided with the right working capital, which means they cannot market the companies. . . We can do all of our marketing and development ourselves.”
Sugar Cane Mall will also be the site of entertainment events, including the Regeneration Tent.
Additionally, director of Satjay Mall, Lalu Vaswani, said on Thursday the upper floors of the mall will be transformed into a commercial office centre. Opened in 2009, the first and second floors once housed mainly clothing stores and a food court.
“Looking at the overall picture, this option was the better one so we made the decision,” he said.
Vaswani said discussions were still in the works with potential tenants.