The flag is down, the economy is recovering and speculative commercial building is taking off. A project combining residential and retail space is going up at 2253 Central Ave. A retail building a block away will be finished within weeks. A small shopping center is almost complete and up for grabs at 4055 Tyrone Blvd.
Meridian Lofts at Grand Central at 2253 Central Ave. should be ready in September. The 10,000-square-foot building includes six apartments and five retail spaces. It's the first "live-work" project of its kind in the area.
"The downstairs will be retail, such as a coffee shop or a restaurant. We're hoping somebody would run a business downstairs and live upstairs," said listing agent Brian Sprague. There has been a lot of interest so far, he added.
Apparently people aren't hesitant to live on the business thoroughfare. More inquiries have been made about the residential than the retail space. The one- and two-bedroom units are 900 to 1,200 square feet and will rent for $650 to $1,200 a month. The building could be rented to one main tenant, or the residential and retail space could go to separate tenants.
A few doors down from the lofts, a 3,000-square-foot building still under construction has been leased to Grand Central Stained Glass & Graphics. The 6-year-old business is moving from 2425 Central Ave. and doubling in size. With 18 classes a week for about 140 students, owner Eloyne Erickson and her husband have been looking for more space.
"This will allow us to have monthly space for people to come in and work on projects on their own," Erickson said.
Boyd Construction plans to complete the project at 2401 Central Ave. this month, and the stained glass business should open before the end of August. Barracuda Properties, the owner of the project, provided its own financing.
Then there's the new building at Tyrone Boulevard and Park Street, where a Crabby Bill's once stood.
"People want to see buildings built. They say "build it and they will come,' " said John Anderson, senior commercial specialist with Whole Development, the company developing the 11,000-square-foot building. Anytime Fitness has leased 3,500 square feet, and several retailers are looking at the rest of it, he said.
"A lot of companies have to have all their ducks in a row, i's dotted, t's crossed and all the leases signed before they can develop a piece of property. We're a little cowboy-esque," Anderson said of his partners in the boutique development company. About half of their construction is speculative. The building is financed by the partners, not a bank.
"If you have a signed lease, the banks are lending pretty aggressively. They will lend with 20 percent down," he said. "With spec deals, no."
Still, spec building is picking up overall in the area, Anderson said, though he thinks developers and retailers looking for fire-sale prices are slowing down the commercial real estate recovery.
"The days of having those great deals are gone. They're not giving it away anymore on the main drags," he said. "I have clients wanting to find great deals, and they still have it in their mind they can go and buy property for 50 cents on the dollar. Those days are gone."
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or email@example.com.