Make us your home page

Shopping center vacancy rates remain stuck above 10 percent


The shopping center vacancy rate remains stuck at 10.7 percent this summer despite bay area retailers snapping up the remnants of empty big box storefronts.

With minimal new development on the horizon and an economy stuck in neutral, all the action is centered on the few opportunistic retailers trading up by seizing on slumping rent for good locations, according to a market update released Monday at the Florida Dealmaking Conference of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

To be sure, the strongest shopping destinations such as West Shore in Tampa continue to get stronger, while weaker ones such as downtown St. Petersburg struggle.

"It feels better than five months ago, but there's still a lot of caution out there," said John Crossman, whose Orlando real estate firm manages 100 Publix shopping centers.

Gaping big box vacancies are slowly being filled. Dick's Sporting Goods is rebuilding a vacant Allbertons in Countryside. Sweetbay Supermarket just remodeled a former Publix in East Lake Woodlands after Publix moved into a bigger former Albertsons nearby. Pet Supermarket took over half of a Jo-Ann Fabrics in the University Collection in Tampa.

With empty Borders bookstores joining the ranks of empty Circuit City, Hollywood Video and Linens n' Things, more retailers have surfaced to cut empty boxes up into smaller pieces.

Save-A-Lot, Cato, Tuesday Morning, LA Fitness and Party City outlined aggressive plans to bulk up their Florida presence over the next 18 months in reconfigured space.

More ominous, however, was a University of Florida survey of 300 state real estate professionals asking about emerging market trends. The index took a turn down for the first time in more than a year.

"After what's happened the past four weeks, people are feeling uncomfortable about what's happening in Washington, D.C., and with the economy," said Tim Becker, director of the UF real estate program. "When business deals with that much uncertainty, they do not spend money."

Styling online. Bringing a tech touch to an industry trapped in a time warp, Great Clips claims the hairstyling industry's first online check-in.

Customers at 1,400 U.S. salons — 33 of them in the Tampa Bay area — can now check the waiting time for walk-ins at any location an hour in advance. You can put your name on the waiting list to avoid sitting around thumbing through dog-eared magazines. And for those in sudden need of a cut, has a smart phone app.

"It's new, but a third of our customers already use it," said Ronnie Lawson, who manages a Great Clips in St. Petersburg.

Forest for the trees. Office Depot has stopped putting small contract business orders in cardboard boxes in a move the Boca Raton retailer says will save 20,000 trees a year, along with the cost of thousands of plastic air pillows used for cushioning.

Individual products that come in cardboard will remain that way. But any combined order that totals less than 20 pounds will be wrapped in a paper bag made from 40 percent recycled material and delivered in a reusable tote. Office Depot will shift to paper bags unless customers prefer the old way.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

Shopping center vacancy rates remain stuck above 10 percent 08/22/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2011 8:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa


    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  4. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'


    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]