Downtown vacancy rate drops

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Retail activity Downtown improved this year, with a number of new restaurants moving in, resulting in a lower vacancy rate, a report shows.

Downtown's retail vacancy rate for its 1.8 million square feet of space declined to 9.7 percent at the end of June from 10.3 percent rate at the end of 2009, according to Grubb & Ellis' Retail Trends Report -- Mid-Year 2010.

However, the overall retail vacancy rate for the Pittsburgh region increased to 8.4 percent from 7.9 percent at the end of 2009, the report said.

"Retail activity Downtown has picked up over the past 18 months, with a number of new restaurants moving into vacant space," said David Glickman, vice president of Grubb & Ellis' Retail Group.

Glickman cited a newcomer named Elements, which will occupy the former Palomino space in Four Gateway Center, along with Walnut Grove, a Sharp Edge on Penn Avenue, a new Subway, and soon to enter the Downtown market, Massburgher.

Total available retail space in the region increased in the mid-year report to 56.9 million square feet from 56.4 million square feet at the end of 2009.

Additions included Settlers' Ridge in Robinson and Bakery Square in Larimer, while subtractions included a former Builders Square building in the Braddock Hills Shopping Center (now a charter school) and demolition of the West Hills Shopping Center for a new Wal-Mart in Moon.

New retailers in the market, include Crate and Barrel and California Pizza Kitchen at Ross Park Mall, Ross; and Cadillac Ranch at Settlers Ridge.

A Lowe's Home Improvement is under construction along with LA Fitness and Fidelity Bank at McCandless Crossing in McCandless; Target will open in East Liberty; Red Robin Gourmet Burgers opened in South Hills Village and Saks Fifth Avenue opened Off 5th at Tanger Outlet Center in South Strabane.

On the industrial front, the report showed that for the first time since the end of 2004, vacancy levels increased during the April-June period.

The industrial vacancy rate rose to 10.8 percent at the end of June from 8.6 percent at the end of 2009. The new biggest vacancy is the 2.3 million-square-foot former Sony television assembly plant in Westmoreland County, which closed.

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