As Americans continue to struggle with the economy, local businesses may not be booming. But recent statistics show signs of Gaithersburg returning to pre-recession numbers.
The city of Gaithersburg's retail vacancy numbers have shrunk to their lowest percentage since the recession, Gaithersburg Economic Development Director Tom Lonergan said, based on a report of around 300 retail properties from around the city. The report includes both shopping centers and freestanding retail sites, he said.
"I'm pleased with the way things are trending right now," Lonergan said. "Obviously there are some spaces that their vacancies are more notiecable and we look forward to getting new tenants in there sooner than later."
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The numbers represent "the lion's share of retail space around the city," Lonergan said, but take a few months to be fully updated. There are a few properties, such as the Bally's space in Kentlands, that are yet to be accounted for.
While the numbers do not represent specific neighborhoods, Lonergan said things continue to be slower than he'd like in terms of new retail in Olde Towne Gaithersburg, but there are a couple of new businesses the city is working with that he hopes to be able to announce in the near future.
In Kentlands, the city is pleased with Red Hue Boutique and the direction of Main Street, Lonergan said, adding that the neighborhood's Giant Center is also doing well.
Vacancies at the former home of Ballys Total Fitness and 44 Sports Bar and Grille are noticeable in terms of size of the their location in Kentlands, he said.
One longtime Kentlands business owner expressed his frustration with a lack of consistency for businesses in the neighborhood.
"It's disgusting in the neighborhood that I'm in (Kentlands)," Wine Harvest owner Andy Meyrowitz said. "You see that businesses aren't as strong as they need to be to survive, or are just strong enough to survive. It's discouraging and hopefully soon we'll see some turnaround, but there's no guarantee at the moment."
While acknowleding some challenges, Lonergan remains confident.
"Overall, the demographics, density and shopping patterns continue to indicate that Kentlands is still one of the city's strongest areas for shopping and good retail," Lonergan said. "With that said, being a little bit off the main roads, and, in particular, with multiple new town centers and other commercial shopping opportunities being developed around the city, I understand the challenging environment for retail in the city."
SPEAK OUT: What do you think about the retail scene in Gaithersburg? What would you like to see in some of the vacancies? Tell us in the comments!
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