Where’s the retail?
One thing the new multi-story buildings are not bringing into the Old Town area is new retail establishments – the three that have been completed are filled or about to be filled with office space only
Michael R. Vanderpool, who built the VF&N, said his original plans were to have retail shops on the first floor. But after searching for months he could not find suitable retail tenants and instead rented out what space he was not using for his law firm to companies seeking office space.
“In our case being located on Church Street, and I’m sure it’s true for the others, we were not located in the main commercial area of Center Street. Also with the cost of land and construction going into the buildings, the rent is probably prohibitive for the small business owner,” said Vanderpool.
Vanderpool said that may change with the Van Meter at Old Town project.
“That project is projected to have retail shops in the first floor in a five-story building at Center, Zebedee, Quarry and Fairview and it will be located closer to a commercial area, such as O’Meara’s Restaurant and Pub,” he said.
With many of the former retail shops in Old Town being converted into office use, some merchants feel the downtown area may be losing its appeal to draw shoppers into the area with its limited number of stores.